A “hostile immigration policy” is putting Edinburgh’s festivals at risk, according to MSP Gordon Macdonald.
Macdonald, who is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, will be leading a debate at Holyrood on May 30 into “hard-line visa controls” and their impact on Edinburgh’s festivals.
The motion says that since the UK government introduced hard-line visa controls, visa applications for performers have been hit by refusals, errors and delays. It points out that acclaimed international writers, actors and musicians have been forced to cancel appearances at Edinburgh’s festivals.
Macdonald said: “Edinburgh Festivals is the world’s largest arts festival and Edinburgh is well recognised as the world’s leading festival city. With audiences of a staggering 4.5 million, the festivals generate an incredible economic impact of £280 million in Edinburgh and £313 million in Scotland in total.
“Our reputation is being damaged and our international positioning put at risk because of the UK Government’s hostile immigration policy.
“Artists are facing a humiliating application process. Their visas are being refused. And, due to the inaction from the UK Government, artists are being deterred from coming here.”
The 2018 international book festival was hit when individual authors were unable to obtain visas. In 2017, a third of performers in the Arab arts showcase had their visas denied.
Macdonald described this situation as “an utter shambles and completely unacceptable”.
He added: “The Edinburgh festivals rely on the seamless flow of artists from across the world and it’s time for the UK Government to listen. Listen to the industry and take action to make sure that Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK are open for culture.
“If they won’t listen, then they should devolve immigration and let the Scottish Government get on with building a fair and functional immigration system.”