US visa regulations have caused the cancellation of festivals such as
Boston College's Gaelic Roots Festival, and have choked off access to
performers and teachers--unless they risk being caught as vacationers
who do gigs. Recently a Cape Breton fiddler was interrogated for 4
hours at the border and then banned for life because of informal plans
to join some American musicians for some performances and workshops.

The problem is that the US focuses only on commerce, and cultural
exchange is not about commerce. Many times performers who share and
teach cultural traditions can't afford the visa fees or the rush fees
($1000!) to get things done in less than 95 days, and they're not
permitted to add or change their itinerary! This just chokes off
cultural exchange for Irish, Canadian, Hispanic, Asian--all sorts of
communities who bring in people to demonstrate and teach, people who
deserve some compensation for time and expenses but who are not
primarily in it for commercial reasons. Big bands who tour can manage
the work visas but not the little guys who pass along tradition--

Please sign the petition at this link, so we can get the ball rolling! And spread the word!


[sent by Ed Pearlman]


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