Blog: Arts After Brexit study warns of two-year cultural hiatus in UK – The Guardian

Cultural organisations in the UK could face a two-year artistic hiatus triggered by Brexit in which they become more inward looking and less international, according to a report on the consequences of leaving the EU.

The Arts After Brexit study by the University of Manchester predicts that UK cultural organisations will be less likely to commission European artists due to uncertainty over any Brexit deal and possible Covid-19 restrictions.

Dr Charlotte Faucher, who oversaw the research, said the fear was that a lack of clarity on insurance, visas and travel restrictions, paired with potential complications caused by the global pandemic, would make European collaborations too risky.

“Some of the institutions told me they haven’t made plans with European artists because they cannot afford to plan something and then to have to change it according to whatever legislation might come in December or January,” she said. “There’s too much uncertainty.”

The report also predicted that Brexit-voting towns in England would take the hardest arts hit once Britain leaves Europe, with millions in cultural funding from the EU no longer flowing to regional institutions.

In 2018, research by Arts Council England estimated that England would lose out on up to £40m in cultural funding a year because of Brexit, after more than 1,300 artistic and cultural projects were awarded at least £345m in EU funding between 2007 and 2016.

Faucher looked at Stoke-on-Trent, Great Yarmouth and Middlesbrough as examples of towns which have benefited from EU arts funding but voted to leave Europe.

She said arts leaders in the areas would be forced to look to their local councils for funds but that culture was not seen as a priority, with the UK’s local authorities already spending less on the arts than any other European country.

She said: “It’s very easy for a council to withdraw support for culture, which is something that they couldn’t do for schools or public transport. So with the impact of Covid-19 as well they think the arts is going to be one of the sectors to be hit by underfunding.”

Faucher says that medium-sized UK organisations that want to have European partnerships will be hit the hardest because they have traditionally been the target of schemes like Creative Europe.

In February, the UK government announced in its EU negotiation mandate that it would not be seeking to participate in the next Creative Europe programme, which will distribute €1.46bn (£1.3bn) to cultural projects.

She said: “Medium-sized institutions feel that the diverse offer that they have been able to put up might be compromised by Britain leaving the EU, because for them it’s more money to be able to develop partnerships.”

Faucher also found artistic directors and arts leaders who were trying to develop new links with the EU despite Brexit looming, with partnerships between European institutions being considered as a way to access EU funds.

One such example is the Site Gallery in Sheffield which, in order to retain a close relationship with Europe, is exploring a partnership with the Kulturforum, an arts centre in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

That approach could allow it to circumvent any ineligibility problems a UK organisation might face when applying for EU schemes after Brexit.

As well as new partnerships, other ways to continue getting EU funds include opening sister companies abroad, cooperation at the municipal level between twined towns and cities, for example, and bilateral government schemes.

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