Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Visa Denials scuttle play with Syrian Actresses at Georgetown

This article confronts an important arts advocacy issue, visa processing for foreign artists. There are a lot of complications foreign artists face as the US Department of Homeland Security continues to be heavy handed post 9/11.  As refugees in Jordan, Syrian women who were purported to perform at Georgetown cannot receive artist visas because there is allegedly no guarantee they will be allowed back into Jordan. It is still in the works to enable the Syrian women to be involved via Skype in the live event at Georgetown’s theater if approval is not received for the women to return to Jordan after the planned performances.

Many arts managers work with organizations to bring in persons from other nations to give Americans the chance to understand a facet of another culture. This performance in particular yields necessary insights into Muslim culture directly from Syrian women. Concerning international arts management, this story is intriguing to unpack and consider how one would facilitate alternate opportunities when government affairs go awry!

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4 comments on “Visa Denials scuttle play with Syrian Actresses at Georgetown

  1. trishayoung
    September 5, 2014

    It’s an interesting dilemma from the government’s perspective as well. Artists defecting from their home countries is practically a tradition. The struggle to get visas for artists reminded me of the discussion we had on Wednesday with Franck, the company manager of Amaluna. He mentioned that they have teams that take care of visas and housing and how it sometimes requires strong encouragement to get visas for all their employees. One argument the countries present is why they need their whole company (lighting, maintenance etc.) if they could just hire someone once in country. Franck mentioned that one tactic they’ve found useful is emphasizing all the other people they’d employ once on site for services such as laundry and ushering. The logistics get super complicated when borders are crossed.

  2. awellfare89
    September 5, 2014

    This is a tragedy. We’ve seen in an Evanjsanderson’s earlier post how art opens understanding of cultural crisis as Lily Hyde’s novels have done for the Crimea crisis. It would be interesting to look into how organizations that lobby for artist visas like the Performing Arts Alliance ( http://theperformingartsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=visa_issue_center ). I would imagine it is a frightening as well as rewarding experience.

  3. shrulala
    September 5, 2014

    Immigration is a contentious issue. We have had artists visiting from India on a P3 visa. The same artist has been denied a particular year for reasons unexplained. Other than a country’s political affairs I have always found immigration officials fickle on enforcing of laws and regulations. People who have a visa have been denied entry at the airport! I feel there has to be a streamlined process for artists who clearly do not want to immigrate but are here to perform and share their culture vs artists who could be potential political refugees!

  4. hgenetos
    September 5, 2014

    I think this is a particularly sticky situation due to the fact that these women are refugees to begin with. As much as it kills me to see the situation in Syria and the plight of the refugees, the voyage to the US without a guaranteed passage back into the country that is temporarily housing them is always a concern for governments especially with the border issues we are having. It kills me that the arts have to suffer because of the government. We should be able to push these visas through more with countries that are not going through civil wars. I’m happy to see there are lobbies in place to promote getting artist visas through the system.

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