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Juliet Stevenson among arts leaders fearing for international collaborations post Brexit

Juliet Stevenson. Photo: Piers Allardyce Juliet Stevenson. Photo: Piers Allardyce
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Actor Juliet Stevenson has labelled Brexit an “insane, retrograde step” and claimed it will make international collaborations “much harder”.

She is one of several arts figures, including playwright Lolita Chakrabarti and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer to talk about the effect Brexit will have on the arts.

Their comments were made at the launch of Manchester International Festival 2019, where other theatremakers also raised concerns over Brexit.

Stevenson told The Stage: “To go back to borders, boundaries, passports, controls and making it much harder to collaborate with each other is an insane retrograde step.”

She added: “I spent last year filming a series called Riviera, which had a French crew, Belgian director, German camera man, English, Swiss and American casts, and it’s particularly those sorts of things that are going to be much harder.”

Pouffer said he too was “concerned” about how leaving the European Union will impact the performing arts industry.

“One of our fundamentals for Rambert is to have an international company that represents the world […] there’s a lot of unknowns, and I’m really hoping I will still have the opportunity to hire foreigners, because it’s important to showcase the talent of the world,” he told The Stage.

Director Leo Warner of projection designers 59 productions echoed these concerns, adding: “The pressure culture is under in the UK is intense, and the opportunities afforded by organisations such as MIF and Rambert, are few and far between as it is.

“That’s only going to get more complex in an increasingly squeezed economic situation.”

Chakrabarti, who is collaborating with Swan Pouffer and Warner for a project called Invisible Cities at MIF 2019, said she believed that artists would rally to make “great art” in the wake of Brexit.

She said: “Art is about struggle and when you’ve got a really crap time going on, great art comes out of it and collaboration comes through that. There’s a resistance in art that gets forgotten when the times are easy, because we reflect what we know.

“It might be awful, I’m not denying that, but art pushes things on and creates new connections.”

She added that MIF, which brings together artists from around the world, “resonates more than usual” in the current political climate.

Maxine Peake, Ivo Van Hove and Lolita Chakrabarti to feature in Manchester International Festival 2019 programme

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