U.K. Waives Visa Fee for Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra

By Francisco Salazar

The Home Office in the U.K. has agreed to waive visa fees for a Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra facing a £18,000 bill to perform at the BBC Proms.

The orchestra is set to perform at the prestigious festival in “solidarity” with Kyiv.

In a statement, Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed that the department would not ask the “Orchestra to pay the fees after the Standard and a Labour shadow minister highlighted the issue earlier this month.”

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra includes refugee musicians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s war and will be conducted by Ukrainian-Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson.

The orchestra is set to perform a Europe-wide tour in Warsaw on July 28 before their performance at the Proms on July 31 and the Edinburgh Festival on August 6.

The orchestra had faced a battle to secure funding to perform at the Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival and members of the group would have required a Tier 5 creative worker visa for the events, at a cost of £259 per person.

Labour MP and shadow arts minister Barbara Keeley previously said that they “should be doing everything to get Ukrainian musicians into this country”.

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was put together in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera. All of the proceeds from the tour will go towards supporting Ukrainian artists.