Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Brexit: what does it mean for the arts?

Photo: Shutterstock
by -

The UK cultural sector could face restricted access to European funding and depleted talent pools as a result of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Arts leaders have previously warned that leaving the EU would have a “huge bearing on the future health of the creative industries and the arts and cultural sectors”.

Earlier this year, a survey conducted by the Creative Industries Federation found 96% of its members in favour of remaining in the EU, for reasons including access to EU funding and the free movement of talent.

The sector has warned that both of these factors could come under significant threat as a result of Britain leaving the EU.

Arts leaders call for unity following ‘catastrophic’ EU referendum result

The ability for the UK to access the €1.3 billion Creative Europe programme could now be in jeopardy, while arts figures have warned of the effects Brexit will have on access to and movement of talent.

Former National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner has previously said the theatre sector “thrives on the free exchange of talent, of ideas, of inspiration”.

“Why would we want to suddenly impose borders on this free exchange of talent and ideas?” he added.

The ability to train in European institutions could be restricted, while issues such as visas for performers and creatives working across the continent will now need to be addressed.

Access to EU markets could also come under threat as a result of Britain’s exit – the single market within the EU is the largest export market for the UK’s creative industries, totalling 56% of all overseas trade in the sector.

Entertainment unions including Equity and the Musicians Union both claimed the consequences of leaving the EU would be “very unwelcome” for British artists and performers.

Conversely, campaigners supporting EU withdrawal claimed the move would allow the UK to continue trading with Europe but enable it to develop relationships with other non-European countries.

Pro-leave arguments have also included that leaving the EU would allow the UK to have more control over its spending.

The issue has divided the government’s cultural leaders, with arts minister Ed Vaizey describing vote to leave the EU as “irresponsible”, and culture secretary John Whittingdale backing the campaign to exit.

Read our editor’s view

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.