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Farron demands "answers" after visa problems threaten to disrupt Lake District Summer Music School

July 22, 2009 12:00 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on the government to provide answers to questions over the impact on charities of changes to the immigration laws, as Lake District Summer Music School expressed concerns after other festivals were forced to cancel a number of performances as a result of artists and promoters being unable to secure visas in time.

Founded in 1984, the Lake District Summer Music School is an International Festival held every August, attracting world class performers as well as being an outlet for young musicians and rising stars to perform.

LDSM have not had to cancel any performances as a result of artists being unable to secure visas in time; however they have raised concern about the lack of clarity regarding the accreditation process for visas after one student was already refused entry to attend the school this summer.

Mr Farron has written to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas MP to express his concern that the government's new "points based" immigration system has prevented oversees students from being able to attend the summer school. The required accreditation for visas is beyond the resources of charities such as LDSM, who rely on charitable donations for their funding.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"There's been a distinct lack of clarity regarding the changes to the government's immigration policy and the impact this will have on charities such as Lake District Summer Music School.

"LDSM relies on charitable donations for funding meaning that the visa accreditation process is just too expensive for them to afford. They've already had one student refused entry to attend LDSM this summer and I'm sure the situation has also been affecting other major arts summer schools across the UK.

"I've written to Phil Woolas, the Minister for Immigration, asking him to clarify the government's position on this issue and to guarantee the visas of the other students hoping to attend the school to prevent any further disruption to this summer's festival."

Andrew Lucas from LDSM added:

"There are major training institutions across the UK that are being caught up in this who have an international reputation. There is a very real danger that the reputation of the UK as an international centre for the performing arts and a training ground for young talent will be seriously damaged if immediate action is not taken.

"Summer schools such as LDSM offer a powerful combination of advanced training alongside public performance opportunities, and chances for musicians to meet and perform with their peers from around the world. As registered charities, we simply do not have the manpower or financial resources to meet these demands."