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Contemporary dancers and orchestral musicians in line for visa concessions

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Contemporary dancers and orchestral musicians look set to be given the same exemption to the new, controversial points-based visa system as ballet performers.

The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended to government that the two sectors are both classified as “shortage occupations”, a move which will make it easier for foreign artists working in these areas to come and perform in the UK.

This concession had already been extended to classical ballet dancers and the contemporary dance world has long called for similar measures to be introduced for the sector. “The points-based system, including the shortage occupation list, has to operate for the benefit of United Kingdom workers, especially given the current economic climate,” said the chair of the MAC, professor David Metcalf.

“These latest recommendations take account of the impact of the worldwide recession on the United Kingdom. We have looked critically at the evidence regarding the occupations under review and made recommendations which balance the needs of the UK workforce against those of employers. It is important to note that some shortages of skilled labour will still exist in a recession. This can be where there is a long-term structural shortage of skilled workers, where workers provide key public services, or in areas such as culture where the United Kingdom needs to maintain global leadership.”

However, the Musicians’ Union has said it is against any exemption being applied to orchestral musicians.

John Smith, MU general secretary, said: “We are not opposed to musicians coming into the UK to work under certain circumstances. For example, current migration rules already allow for musicians to come into the country if they have international status, or for key orchestral roles.

“What we do not agree with is the inclusion of orchestral musicians in the recommended shortage occupation lists, because we have yet to be convinced of there being a shortage of orchestral musicians in this country.”

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