Press Releases

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Washington, DC— Today, US Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), both former Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Arts Require Timely Service Act (ARTS Act), a bill that would require US Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide premium processing (15-day turnaround) free of charge for any arts-related O or P visa petition that it fails to adjudicate within 14 days as required by law. 

 “Utah’s performing arts enrich our state and culture,” said Hatch. “Unfortunately, when our orchestras and theater companies seek to host performers from other countries, they often run into delays and other problems with visa processing. This increases the cost of hosting visiting performers, and in some cases, can even lead to postponement or cancellation of long-planned events. The Artists Require Timely Service Act, or ARTS Act, will simplify visa processing for such performers so that our performing arts groups can have greater certainty as they seek to bring world-class artists to our state.”

 "The ARTS Act ensures that organizations like the Vermont Symphony Orchestra can tap global talent and fully engage in international cultural exchange without arbitrary and unnecessary government restrictions and delays,” Leahy said.  “Visiting artists enrich our communities, and it is high time that we create a permanent solution for this problem.” 

Statements of Support 

Scott Barrick, General Manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir frequently invites international guest artists to join us on historic Temple Square in Salt Lake City for live concerts filled with extraordinary and inspiring music. These concerts are later shared with audiences across the United States and around the world.  We encourage legislators to support adoption of the ARTS Act because the improvements to the artist visa process are so critical and necessary. They will make welcoming renowned international artists to our performances so much easier and less costly. As a result, our ability will increase to bring the joy, peace, and healing of music to those so desperately in ne
ed of it in the world today.”

 

Click to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform “Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones,” composed by Senator Hatch. Via YouTube

Frank Mack, Executive Producer, Utah Shakespeare Festival:

"The arts by nature are collaborative and the ability to interact with artists worldwide is essential. The Utah Shakespeare Festival collaborates with many organizations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association 2019 annual conference will be hosted in the Czech Republic. Shakespeare's voice transcends borders. His plays serve as a perfect example of why arts producers in the U.S. need a visa policy that will enable us to give our audiences performances that reflect the global nature of art." 

Paul Meecham, President and CEO, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera:

“As a full-time, nationally-renowned organization in which the engagement of first-rate artists from around the world is paramount to our mission, the ARTS Act will help nonprofit arts organizations serve audiences by making the artist visa process far more consistent. It will enable our organization to finalize contracts and schedule programming in a timeframe that is critical to securing top artists in demand and realizing complex projects. With more certainty of this process, we can continue to enrich programming for our annual audiences of over 350,000, and attract the elevated quality and diversity of guest artists that our audiences have come to expect.” 

Background

  • Nonprofit arts organizations from all regions of the country and in communities of all sizes engage foreign guest artists. In towns and cities across the United States, orchestras, theatres, and dance and opera companies present international artists to US audiences.
  • Following significant delays, errors, and unpredictability in visa processing, some US-based nonprofit arts organizations have been forced to stop engaging international artists. These organizations have determined that they are unable to bear the financial risk, and administrative burden associated with artist visa processing.
  • Nonprofit arts organizations often cannot afford the Premium Processing Service (PPS) fee of $1,225 per petition. The PPS fee reduces the amount of money available for a production or performance and can represent a significant portion of an organization’s operating budget and the costs associated with a production or performance. 
  • The ARTS Act applies only to temporary, nonimmigrant visas for foreign artists visiting the United States. O and P visas do not add to the number of individuals permanently living and working in the United States.
  • Congress recognized the time-sensitive nature of engaging visiting artists when it enacted the 1991 federal law on O and P visas. The 1991 law instructs USCIS to process O and P arts visas in 14 days. This mandate has never been implemented by USCIS.
  • The ARTS Act would require USCIS to provide premium processing free of charge for any arts-related O or P visa petition filed by a nonprofit arts organization that USCIS fails to adjudicate within 14 days.


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