US pianist falls foul of UK immigration rules

Statement by Manick Govinda, on a cancelled tour by a US pianist

The Manifesto Club was informed of a cancelled recital by the US pianist Christopher Atzinger who was billed to perform in Woking on Saturday 14 April. The recital is promoted by the Breinton Recital Society a non-profit, member society passionate about hosting top class musicians to perform in an intimate, informal and enjoyable surrounding. Atzinger was forced to cancel his UK tour due to “a tightening of UK immigration rules.”

Lionel Smith-Gordon, Secretary & Treasurer of the Breinton Recital Society informed us that that “Christopher Atzinger had come to the UK a few years ago on a tourist visa to play a concert at St Martins-in-the-Fields. On that occasion, he was detained for a few hours at Heathrow and was severely reprimanded for not knowing and following the rules. Therefore, he had planned to find a licenced sponsor for his UK tour in April [2012]. However, none of the promoters that he was working with (including us) had such a licence and we all agreed it was too late and too difficult to apply for one at this point. We all also agreed that it would be a mistake for him to come as a tourist when he had been detained on a prior visit.”

Atzinger was also due to perform at the intimate convivial space The Red Hedgehog in north London who unfortunately are not UKBA licensed sponsors as recitals by international musicians are occasional, and the costs to being a Tier 5 sponsor is expensive and burdensome for small music promoters.

The Manifesto Club hopes that the UKBA’s new Permitted Paid Engagement visitor route which will be introduced on 6 April 2012 will provide a better alternative to the costly and bureaucratic points-based sponsorship system for small grassroots arts and performance promoters. Atzinger said that “It was an extremely frustrating situation, though I am happy to hear of the new policy changes.”

Manick Govinda, Visiting Artists Campaign, Manifesto Club