Image credit: James Griffiths, source: @heiner.
Elton John’s dedication of a Beijing concert in November to ‘wonderful dissident, terrible artist‘ Ai Weiwei may have made things more difficult for other foreign artists to perform in China.
Though at the time it seemed like John’s misbehaviour wouldn’t have any negative repercussions beyond a snarky Global Times editorial, Tania Branigan at the Guardian reports that the Chinese authorities were “incensed” by the singer’s actions, and vowed to tighten restrictions on foreign musicians.
The singer’s remarks even prompted the culture minister, Cai Wu, to demand that only stars with university degrees be allowed to play in China in future, according to two sources. They said that days after the concert, Cai gathered those who deal with visiting foreign artists and announced that only graduates should be given performance licences.
Another source said that since the start of the year, classical musicians had been required to supply proof of degrees and other qualifications when applying for permission to tour China. “There is no doubt at all it has made things harder,” said one of those with knowledge of the meeting, adding that several recent applications for licences had been rejected.