Quarter of Migrant Arts Professionals Are Thinking About Leaving the UK Following ‘Hostile Environment’

In further news: major study into arts and mental health launched; artist pulls out of MoMA PS1 exhibition over alleged prison links

Hashmat Sultana at Womad, 2018. Courtesy: Womad

Hashmat Sultana at Womad, 2018. Courtesy: Womad

A quarter of migrant arts workers are thinking about leaving the UK following the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy, according to a new study. As reported by The Stage, a survey carried out by the group Migrants in Culture found that 60 percent of migrants said they had experienced an increase in discrimination and 58 percent reported emotional stress, while working as arts professionals. 25 percent said that they were considering leaving the country. 417 respondents to the poll identified as migrants, which surveyed a total of 614 cultural workers in the UK. The ‘hostile environment’ policy, introduced in 2012 by Theresa May while acting as home secretary, was a series of measures aimed at pushing people without ‘leave to remain’ in the country to voluntarily depart. 90 percent of respondents said they felt fearful and angry about the impact of the ‘hostile environment’ on the arts.

A major study looking at the impact of the arts on physical and mental health has been launched. The research will draw on 800 patients recruited through the NHS, who will participate in arts and health programmes at London hospitals. Led by King’s College London and University College London, the ‘Scaling Up Health Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research’ study is funded from a GBP£2 million grant from the Wellcome Foundation. Programmes will included weekly ballet classes, run by the English National Ballet, as well as group singing sessions aimed at tackling postnatal depression.

The artist Phil Collins has pulled his work from an exhibition at New York’s MoMA PS1, ‘Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011’, in protest of a museum trustee’s links to the private prison industry. MoMA trustee and donor Laurence Fink is CEO of the investment firm BlackRock, which owns stakes in private prison companies GEO Group and Core Civic. In a statement sent to ARTnews, Collins described his decision as ‘an expression of solidarity with the millions of human beings currently held in cages in US prisons and jails, with their communities and loved ones, and with friends, colleagues, organizers, and campaign groups working tirelessly to call out, resist, and counter the social violence perpetuated by the prison system’.

In further news: London non-profit Parasol Unit is to close its gallery space – with plans to run a series of exhibition and events at international venues in the future. Parasol Unit founder Ziba Ardalan said: ‘Today, in the current artistic climate, it seems that my mission as a curator ought to be to think ever more dynamically and beyond borders, and to take considerably more time to reflect on the worldwide practice of art’; two London theatres – the Roundhouse and the Donmar Warehouse – have rejected funding from the Sackler Trust following intense public criticism which has linked the Sackler family to the US opioid drug crisis; and Doris Salcedo has won the Nomura Art Award, which comes with a prize of USD$1 million – the world’s largest prize for contemporary art.

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