skip to main content

STUC Black Workers' Conference Passes MU Motion on Visas for International Musicians from the Global South

The MU called on the STUC Black Workers’ Committee to campaign for a reform to racist visa policies for artists. The motion was debated and passed on Sunday 6 October.

Published: 09 October 2019 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of open passport on top of map
Musicians seeking to work in the UK are enduring humiliating application processes. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Scotland’s music industry benefits from visiting artists. In recent years, the hostile environment created by the policies of Westminster have prohibited artists from the global south from being able to enter the UK to contribute to the Scottish music sector.

Most recently this took the form of two disabled musicians from South India being denied their visas due to being deemed at risk of overstaying.

Their non-disabled support workers were granted visas because they had proof of Indian employment to prove their likelihood to return to India, making this not only an issue of racism, but one of ableism and classism.

The impact of these racist and ableist policies

While these musicians have now had this decision overturned after a high-profile campaign and lobbying, this did not stop their host organisation from losing thousands of pounds, despite the visit being supported by Scottish Government, British Council and Creative Scotland.

It also meant valuable arts activity had to be cancelled, not all of which will be possible to reschedule.

These racist and ableist policies have a real impact on our arts sector – Edinburgh International Book Festival has noted similar issues with visas for international guests.

The UK thrives on the breadth of its diversity

This motion which the MU moved at the conference called on STUC Black Workers' Committee to:

  • Lobby Scottish Government to pursue this issue with the Home Office and Westminster
  • Campaign for reform to racist visa policies for artists.

MU Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Official, John Shortell, commented:

“Since the Conservative Government introduced its hostile policies, musicians seeking to work in the UK are enduring humiliating application processes and visa applications have been delayed or refused forcing musicians to cancel work.

“The UK is a country that thrives on the breadth of its diversity. Sadly, this is not the image projected beyond our borders due to racist and xenophobic policies.”

Are you a member of one of the MU’s Equality Networks?

Members' opinions on equality and diversity issues are vital to the way the MU shapes its services, policies and campaigns.

Find out more about making sure your voice is heard, what our Equality Networks are and how to join one.

Continue reading