More than a hundred leading authors, artists and musicians have co-signed an open letter to the Home Secretary, calling on the government to make it easier for writers and performers to visit the UK on a short-term basis.

The signatories to the letter want short-term visits by non-EU artists to be removed from the scope of the points-based visa system, which they describe as 'needlessly bureaucratic and intrusive' and accuse of badly damaging the UK's great tradition of cultural exchange. The government should, they say, expand the entertainer visa route – currently available to artists who are performing without a fee – to include artists and entertainers who are getting paid.

Last November, US cellist Kristin Ostling, who plays in the Carpe Diem Quartet, was refused entry to the UK even though she was planning to take part in a musicology conference for no fee.