RIGA, April 20 (LETA) - A guest performance of the Latvian National Theater planned during the U.S. Latvian Song Festival in Baltimore, Maryland, this summer has been canceled due to a visa refusal, according to the festival's website.
The festival's organizers had invited the Latvian National Theater to bring to the festival one of its shows, Homeward Bound.
"But good intentions cannot always be fulfilled. Our efforts to convince the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue entry visas to the actors failed this time," the organizers said on the website.
Therefore the show of the Latvian National Theater in Baltimore has been canceled. Instead, the participants of the festival will be able to watch a show by an amateur theater group from San Francisco. The show is based on the book Emil and The Detectives.
The Latvian National Theater confirmed on Twitter that the actors had been refused the entry visas because they were going to the U.S. not as tourists but to give a performance. They had to get employment visas, if everything was to be done by the book, the theater explained.
The theater's spokeswoman, Liga Rimsevica, told LETA that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had refused to issue visas, saying that the specific show, Homeward Bound by Canadian playwright Elliot Hayes, was not the work of a Latvian author and therefore taking the show to the U.S. did not hold any cultural-historical value.
Matthew A. Thompson, Public Affairs Officer with the U.S. Embassy in Riga, told leta that the Embassy could not comment on individual cases, but artists who plan to perform in the United States must receive an approved petition from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before they may apply for visas at the Embassy. The American event organizers apply for these petitions on behalf of the performers.
"The Embassy has not denied any visas for Latvian performers in recent years. Petitions are sometimes delayed or denied by DHS for administrative reasons, including the need to submit additional paperwork," he said, adding that the Embassy strongly supported cultural exchange between Latvia and the United States, including through promoting travel to the Latvian-American song festivals.