Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Come Hither, Foreign Folkie

I regularly receive emails from overseas artists and tourists looking for opportunities to play in New Zealand. I pull up short of trying to be a promoter or agent but I do like to be able to pass on any useful information I have. The easier it is for performers to make their way around the country sharing their talents, the richer the scene becomes for us all; consumers and pickers alike. To my mind it all helps to lubricate the wheels of live music and makes it more of a usual thing for people to do of a week or weekend - a culture of turning the TV off and going out.

A recent enquiry from Britain asked about the appropriate visa status required of someone coming to play (and presumably earn money) in New Zealand. I didn't know so I put the question to the NZ folk list and got a couple of insightful replies; the first from Davy Stuart in Christchurch:
"Many overseas artists don't bother for a folk club tour, most  clubs seem to be happy to operate on a cash basis and lets face it, no-one is going to be earning thousands, given the fees versus the travel expenses etc involved. The larger festivals may be slightly more problematic and subject to greater scrutiny from the relevant authorities and I would probably advise getting a visa for those. Any concerts promoted by City Councils will generally have official tax forms and withholding tax withheld, so a visa would be advisable.

"Of course there is always the slight issue of turning up at NZ airport immigration with 'musician' on a passport and a swag of work visas for other countries.... Explain that to the officer.

"Work visas are not too difficult to obtain, I had to organise the paperwork for visas for Andy Irvine and Rens van Der Zalm the last time they were here. What it did mean though was them fronting up in person to the relevant NZ High Commission overseas, money and forms in hand, cost was about NZ$200 each from memory... "
It is true that the goal posts move with the fashion - in this case our rising-star film industry. This from Sue Harkness in Wellington:
"As Davy's first reference explains, any tour of 14 days or less no longer needs a work visa.

"Work visas for musicians need to be approved by the musicians' branch of the Service and Food Workers' Union. There is a charge per person for the approval and part of the basis of the approval is that the tour involves local support acts (not normally a problem with club gigs).

"Most acts tour under the radar but, if they are regulars or well known names, it's best to go through the paperwork.  You don't want your artist left at the departing airport or denied entry here.

"Once there is a work visa on the Immigration Department's files, there will have to be visas for all the following visits.

"Musicians from countries like China or Africa - who would require permission to visit - most definitely would require a work visa."
And an interesting rejoinder from Gerard Hudson, convener of the Wellington Folk Festival:
"One thing to be aware of is that only licenced immigration consultants can legally advise visitors on their visa requirements or what their personal (as opposed to general) obligations are to comply with the process. Safest is to refer them to the immigration service web sites that Davy referenced above."
And so that, indeed, is what I recommend too.
Mike Moroney
Dedicated to Sue Harkness on the recent loss of her father.

No comments: