Allison Crowe’s UK Debacle

No plan for Friday’s show, but near the end I chose to play some of Allison Crowe and visited her website while the songs were playing. Did I get a surprise. I’ll put up the episode later today but here was the news. First from the Telegraph in London, then today from CBC Radio 3.

One crazy dumb story. Someone who has done shows in the UK every year since 2005 gets held by authorities because of some new legislation the venues didn’t even know about.


Canadian musician held for 11 hours at Gatwick before deportation

A Canadian musician flying into the UK to play in a concert was held by airport immigration officials for almost 11 hours and told she would be deported under strict new legislation governing visiting performers.

By Aislinn Simpson
21 May 2009

Allison Crowe, 27, claims she and her two band mates were fingerprinted and had their passports confiscated shortly after flying into Gatwick Airport.

She said they were shut in a room where they were denied contact with the outside world for six hours and that she was told she would never perform in Europe again once her passports had been stamped by the UK Border Authority as “barred from entry”.

The group were targeted because they failed to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship from the venues they were playing in, a little-known visa requirement brought in last November to combat illegal immigration and terrorism.

The new legislation is opposed by leading figures of the art world including sculptor Antony Gormley, the head of the National Portrait Gallery and of the National Theatre, who along with 5,000 others, have signed a petition calling the Government to review it amid fears it could restrict artistic freedom.

It was also blamed for the decision by celebrated Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami pulling out of his debut production at English National Opera earlier this month.

Both The Halo in London’s Battersea, and the LOT in Edinburgh, where Miss Crowe was due to play this weekend, say they knew nothing about the new legislation and that other previous overseas artists who have performed for them since the legislation took effect had experienced no problems.

Miss Crowe’s manager Adrian du Plessis said she and her colleagues were seized as soon as they arrived in London at 10am on Tuesday and were held until 8.30pm before being released, without their passports and with orders to return for deportation on Friday.

He said she was told by one immigration officer that she would struggle to ever work in Europe again once she had been rejected from the UK.

“Allison has worked very hard since she was 15 building up her career and Europe is one of her biggest bases so she was devastated,” he said.

“We have since been in contact with the German authorities where she is going for the next leg of her tour and they say this is ridiculous and they will welcome her.”

He said Miss Crowe has performed in the UK, sharing a stage with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy on one occasion, every year since 2005 without problems.

“It’s crazy that Allison has the wear the scarlet letter for the rest of her days simply because she came to Britain to perform and didn’t know about some strict new legislation. This will clearly influence the cultural traffic to this country but there’s also a human element – Allison is a Commonwealth citizen who did nothing wrong but was interrogated and treated like a criminal. Do the British border police really have more important things to do to protect the country?”

Manick Govinda, who is leading the campaign against the new rules, said many arts venues were still unaware of the requirements.

“There have been a number of incidents involving musicians but this seems particularly heavy handed,” he said.

“You would have thought that an established Canadian musician, who has performed here many times before, would not have posed a threat.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We recognise and welcome the contribution of creative artists but it’s important that everyone coming to the UK plays by the rules.

“We have taken many steps to ensure that everyone – including foreign artists – know about the new rules. This includes a national advertising campaign, detailed guidance and a dedicated helpline for queries on the points based system, as well as wide consultation with arts organisations in the UK.”

—–

http://radio3.cbc.ca/

Allison Crowe Held For Hours, Fingerprinted And Deported From The UK

Posted by Jennifer Van Evra

Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe is on her way home to Canada after being deported from the UK.

Shortly after the musician arrived at London’s Gatwick airport earlier this week, she and her two band mates were fingerprinted, had their passports confiscated, and were held in a room for six hours, where they were not allowed to contact anyone.

One authority told her that she will never perform in Europe again, now that her passport has been given a “barred from entry” stamp.

So what did she do to elicit such an extreme response? According to the Telegraph, she didn’t get a “Certificate of Sponsorship” – a little-known and controversial visa requirement that was introduced last November to combat illegal immigration and terrorism.

The British venues where Crowe was scheduled to play say they had never even heard of the legislation, and had no idea they were supposed to supply Crowe with the certificate. They also said that other touring musicians have had no problems.

Crowe arrived in England at 10 a.m. Tuesday and was held until 8:30 p.m. She and her bandmates were then released without their passports, and were told to return for deportation today.

“It’s crazy that Allison has the wear the scarlet letter for the rest of her days simply because she came to Britain to perform and didn’t know about some strict new legislation,” said Crowe’s manager Adrian du Plessis.

“This will clearly influence the cultural traffic to this country but there’s also a human element – Allison is a Commonwealth citizen who did nothing wrong but was interrogated and treated like a criminal. Do the British border police really have more important things to do to protect the country?”

The British authorities see the situation a little differently – even though the contentious legislation has elicited protests from artists both inside and outside the UK.

“We have taken many steps to ensure that everyone – including foreign artists – know about the new rules,” said a Home Office spokesperson. “This includes a national advertising campaign, detailed guidance and a dedicated helpline for queries on the points based system, as well as wide consultation with arts organisations in the UK.”

With high-profile gigs and accolades around the globe, Allison Crowe has been having a banner year – which has included several problem-free trips to the UK.

As I mentioned on the show last night she has a few dates in Germany next week.  And as Adrian, her manager pointed out in the Telegraph, those shows are still going ahead.  I’ll try and confirm that this weekend.

We were trying to plan a phone interview with her this summer.  Guess this is a story she’ll have a lot to talk about.

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2 comments

  1. Adrian

    Hi Rob, everyone ~

    This year has been busy already, now it’s in overdrive. I should be able to confirm for you what’s happening with Allison Crowe and band in Europe by this Monday or so…

    If there’s any silver lining to the situation – it’s that we now understand the realities of what until now has been a protest moving growing mostly from within the UK.

    Check out the Visiting Artists and Academics Petition @

    http://www.petitiononline.com/MCvisit/petition.html

    peace, Adrian

  2. Rob C.

    Ya, I hadn’t heard about that story at all till what happened to Allison. Just strange. Especially the timing, why now? Don’t see “evil” people trying to sneak in the UK as musicians….. even that sentence sounds crazy.

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