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20 June 2007

Barrett warns Government not to undermine Edinburgh Festival

John Barrett MP today called on Ministers in Westminster not to push ahead with changes to immigration law that could have a major impact on the future of the Edinburgh Festival and in particular the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The changes in immigration law would require performers and artists who are outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to apply for a work permit to perform in the festival.

Not only would performers be faced with a £200 bill for the permit, but the Festival would be tasked with sponsoring each individual and issuing certificates. For small charitable organisations like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this would require a major increase in staffing and administration costs. The immigration changes are due to come into force in time for the 2008 Festival.

Mr Barrett, an advisory board member of the Edinburgh International Film Festival has today written to Home Secretary John Reid to highlight the problem.

Mr Barrett said:

“The Edinburgh Festival is the best and largest arts and cultural festival anywhere in the world and is a tremendous asset to the city and the whole country. The Government ought to be supporting the festival, not making life more difficult.

“Given that non EEA artists make up almost 20% of the shows in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe it would be a major loss to the festival as a whole if these talented artists decided not to travel to the capital each year.

“I am sure that the Government would not want a legislative oversight to jeopardise the success of the Festival. However, I have made it very clear that unless Ministers wake up to the seriousness of the problem, then this will be the outcome.”

 

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.