British-Japenese artist not allowed to enter British award shows
Acclaimed Japan-born singer Rina Sawayama, 29, slams Mercury Prize for BANNING her from entering because she’s ‘not British enough’ despite living in the UK since the age of 4
- British-Japanese artist Rina Sawayama, 29, ‘not British enough’ for award shows
- Spoke out against stringent rules on who can enter Mercury Prize and the BRITs
- Rules currently state those with British or Irish passport can enter competition
British-Japanese artist Rina Sawayama has accused the Mercury Prize of creating a form of ‘borer control’ because of stringent rules on who is eligible to enter.
Rina, 29, who was born in Japan but has lived in London since she was a child, has expressed her heartbreak over not ‘being British enough’ to enter the Mercury Prize or the BRITs because of a nationality clause.
Both the Brit and Mercury Awards, both flagships of the British music prize, have clauses which says artists must hold a British or Irish passport to be eligible to enter as a British artist.
Depsite her album SAWAYAMA being hailed as the ‘strongest of the year’ by Elton John, Rina is not eligible for consideration.
Speaking to Vice, Rina called the rules ‘problematic’ and urged the shows to redefine what ‘Britishness’ is in their rules, to allow those without British or Irish passports to enter.
British-Japanese artist Rina Sawayama (pictured) says British Award shows are creating a form of ‘borer control’ with their stringent rules on who can enter
Rina, pictured during London Fashion Week, insisted that she has lived in Britain for ‘most of her life’ and expressed her pain at ‘not being british enough’ to enter the award shows
‘If arts awards are creating their own sort of version of border control around their eligibility, I think that’s really problematic.’
Taking to Twitter yesterday, Rina insisted that she has lived in Britain for ‘most of her life’ and expressed her pain at ‘not being British enough’ to enter the award shows.
‘I’ve lived here 25 YEARS (most of my life) but I am not British enough to even be ELIGIBLE for the 2 biggest UK Music awards. I just wanna dream the same dream as everyone else.’
According to the terms and conditions of the Mercury Prize Limited, artists are considered of British or Irish nationality if they hold a passport and/or a birth certificate for either the United Kingdom or Ireland.
Rina has Indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which means she does not hold the right of abode in the United Kingdom but has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on her stay and she is free to take up employment or study.
Rina, pictured during London Fashion Week, has Indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which means she does not hold the right of abode in the United Kingdom but has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on her stay
Part of the entry process involves sending proof of citizenship, such as a scanned passport, to the organisers.
The Mercury Prize rules also state bands or groups are eligible if half or more of the signed members are British or Irish.
However if 30 per cent of the group are British or Irish and the majority have their principal place of residence in the United Kingdom or Ireland, they are allowed to enter.
Rina called the decision was ‘heartbreaking’ and said it felt ‘othering’ to not be included in the award shows.
The artist went on to urge British award ceremonies to reconsider what they define as ‘Britishness’ and to change the rules regarding indefinite leave.
‘What I just want is for all the awards to look into indefinite leave and change the rules to what Britishness means to them’.
Rina, pictured attending the BAFTA Awards last year, was born in Niigata, but she was raised in London from a young and would only visit Japan to go to summer school
The BRIT awards also have a nationality clause stating to be eligible for the British Solo Artists categories or other British categories, artists must be UK passport holders.
A BPI spokesperson commented: ‘Both The BRIT Awards and the Hyundai Mercury Prize aim to be as inclusive as possible within their parameters, and their processes and eligibility criteria are constantly reviewed.’
Rina was born in Niigata, but she was raised in London from a young and would only visit Japan to go to summer school.
In 2019, Rina was the recipient of a grant from BPI, which provides targeted grants specifically to UK artists that have the elements in place for international success, but who need additional support in order to seize opportunities outside the UK.
According to Rina, she would be able to enter the shows with dual citizenship, however her country of her birth does not allow dual nationality.
She explained to the publication that while she has considered getting a British passport instead of a Japanese one, she does not want to cut ties with her birth place, where the rest of her family still live.
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