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Exceptional talent entering the UK: Sarah Ndgaire, musician

  • Date: 13 June 2013
  • Artform: Music
  • Area: International, National
Woman smiling Sarah Ndgaire was given a Tier 1 visa to live and work in the UK based on her exceptional talent as a musician

Sarah Ndgaire is a Ugandan musician who successfully applied for a Tier 1 visa to live and work in the UK. The visas, which allow people to enter this country on the basis of their exceptional talent, are open to artists and creative professionals. 

We asked her some questions about her experience of applying for the visa:

The application process

Q: How did you find out about Tier 1 visas?

A: I was checking on the UK border agency website to what was new when I discovered the Tier 1 visa. By then, it had just been open for about one month.

Q: What qualified you for the exceptional talent route?

A: Having work that has been professionally produced, internationally published, distributed and recognized, as well as having toured internationally and worked with UK arts organisations.

Q: Did you apply for the route overseas or in the UK?

A: I applied for this visa from my home country, Uganda.

Q: What are your thoughts on the process of applying for the visa and what advice would you offer someone applying?

A: I feel that the process of applying for the visa ensures that the right candidates get considered. However, the most difficult part for many talented artists from Africa is to get a recommendation from a UK based organisation - many have worked with other international arts organisations but not those in the UK which is a prerequisite.

My advice to artists who  have not been to the UK, and yet they feel they qualify to come in under this route, is to develop links and collaborate with other artists from the UK, say through Facebook, Myspace, Bandcamp or Linkedin. I also think that collaborating with the British Council in your country might be of help in establishing links with artists and arts organisations in the UK.

Working as an artist in the UK

Q: What made you choose the UK over other countries?

A: I have established a big network over the years of working with UK artists and arts organisations both in Uganda and the UK which I was sure would help me get established in the UK. Also, basing myself in the UK brings me closer to and puts me at the center of many performances in Europe and US. Since I showcase my culture through my performances, the UK was the perfect place as it boasts of many of the world's cultures.

Q: Where do you currently work and did you secure a job before you came here?

A: I did not have a job offer when I came into the UK under this visa. Since coming in, I have given several workshops and performed at many events while working with an arts organisation in Charlton as an assistant artistic programme manager.

Q: How do you think your work has benefited the music scene in the UK?

A: I showcase Uganda's rich cultural heritage in my performance and this has exposed many audiences to the African culture - in turn promoting appreciation of the African culture. I have given workshops aimed at increasing and/or encouraging pride in Africa and Uganda for the children and youth of Ugandan origin born or raised in the UK.

A: What is the greatest achievement since you came to the UK?

A: I have expanded my network which am sure is going to be very useful as I release and promote my new work. I have also increased my chances of getting booked by different events organisers who need African performers yet don't have a budget to get them from Africa. 

Find out more

Find out more about Tier 1 visas and how to apply