The Playgoer: Stop Treating Foreign Artists as Terrorists

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Stop Treating Foreign Artists as Terrorists

Ask any US arts institution today what it's like to try to host touring theatre troupes in the Age of Terror, and they'll tell you it's a nightmare, rife with last minute cancellations and even detentions of foreign artists at our airports.

Time Out's Helen Shaw makes an eloquent case to the Obama administration for relaxing travel restrictions on foreign artists touring the US.

One of the reasons we didn’t get the Olympics? Our stringent, expensive visa process that sends the message: Foreigners, stay put. And now, despite the pleadings of a slew of artist organizations, the long-standing policy that allows a single venue to apply for a touring company’s multiple locations has been wiped out. It doesn’t sound that bad, right? Wrong. Each theater the company goes to must now fill out piles of paperwork and incur costs, just enough in these troubled times to make those theaters say “pass.” And that’s what we can’t afford. Art is ambassadorship, and this is the administration that was supposed to be putting out the international welcome mat.

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