New Zealand’s orchestras and the struggle to obtain visas for their foreign-based musicians

Posted on: August 28, 2020

“The number of people watching online performances by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet skyrocketed … during the nationwide lockdown earlier this year,” writes Amy Williams on Wednesday (8/26) at Radio New Zealand. “Now the organizations … says foreign musicians and dancers must be considered as essential workers. Four players with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra are stuck in the UK and Australia, having been recruited just before the border closed. The orchestra’s chief executive Peter Biggs said an application to bring them in as essential workers was denied…. ‘We’re very worried that we’ll have serious gaps in our orchestra component and so won’t be able to deliver the repertoire that we promised.’ … It is a similar story at the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, [which] applied to bring in five … musicians … but only music director Giordano Bellincampi was approved for a short-term visit [from his home in Copenhagen]. He completed managed isolation in time for scheduled sold-out concerts in August—which were then Covid-cancelled…. The government says it is aware of the difficulties faced by the performing arts. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said as well as the wage subsidy, there are targeted funds for those working in arts and culture.”