As Nicole Daley, a policy intern with the Future of Music Coalition in Washington, DC, writes, Canadian musicians need a petition from an organization—usually a venue, booking agent or manager—to obtain this visa. The petition includes a list of places where the band or artist is scheduled to perform. But these petitions are processed by mail, and we all know how long that can take.
Canadian musicians have long expressed their frustration with the process of obtaining visas to cross the border and legally tour in the United States. But that may soon change, thanks to the introduction of new bipartisan legislation intended to streamline the process.
The proposed “Bringing Entertainment Artists to the States” (BEATS) Act, introduced by representatives Dave Trott (R-MI), Chris Collins (D-NY) and Peter Welch (D-VT) would speed up the process of obtaining a P-2 visa for Canadian musicians. Right now ,a touring musician typically must acquire a petition from a United States organization to obtain a visa. The petioner is usually a venue, presenting organization, booking agent, management company, etc, and the petition includes a list of dates and venues of performances. These petitions are processed in advance by mail, and can involve unexpected delays.
But under the BEATS act, musicians would be able to file an application for admission into the United States with an immigration officer at any Class A port of entry located on the border of the United States and Canada, or at any pre-clearance station at a canadian airport, right on their way into the US. They’d just need to have the paperwork with the signature of the petitioner and the appropriate supporting documentation ready.
This week, the Canadian government opted to dramatically change the labor regulations placed on non-Canadian acts touring in Canada. The decision essentially reverses last summer’s decision that drew the ire of the American Association of Independent Musicians (A2IM) and the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) among others.
On July 31, the Canadian government approved a new set of fees that may make it prohibitively expensive for international bands to play bars and restaurants in their country. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment Social Development & Multiculturalism, announced the change on Aug. 7, but it’s taken a few weeks and a widely shared article by the Calgary Herald for talent buyers to get wind of the changes and to appreciate their effect on the music industry.
Now that the word is out, outraged music fans have been signing a petition against the fees by the thousands, claiming that “this will inevitably cripple small music venues and small business talent buyers.”
Back at our 2010 Future of Music Policy Summit, Canadian Member of Parliament Charlie Angus (House of Commons, Timmins, ON) joined FMC co-founder and general counsel Walter McDonough on stage for a special conversation about Charlie’s experiences as a musician, broadcaster, elected official and activist. Charlie got in touch with us this week to update us on a cause close to his heart: the native people of Attawapiskat. read more
Earlier this month, Member of Parliment Charlie Angus spoke about his campaign to help the kids of James Bay when he was a featured speaker at the Future of Music Coalition policy symposium in Washington. He was surprised to find himself on the agenda along with musicians like T Bone Burnett, but there he was – the punk rocker turned politician.
Along with speaking about the rights of musicians in the digital age, Mr. Angus said the participants wanted to hear about the plight of youth on James Bay. There was so much interest that later this week he is holding a conference call with the principals of the coalition to see what can be done to help. Although it’s early days they are looking at mentorship programs with American musicians or appearances by U.S. bands. read more