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Brexit: What does leaving the EU mean for the Creative Arts?

Brexit and the Creative Industries

What does the EU Referendum result Brexit mean for the Creative Arts industry in the UK?

On Thursday 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom came out en masse and voted for Brexit. To leave the European Union. I myself voted to stay. I believe the EU has some faults, but I also believe that the opportunities available to the UK as part of the EU were far, far greater than the opportunities we will now have outside it. Alas, it’s a done deal. But, what does leaving the EU – Brexit as it is better known – mean for the Creative Arts? What are the implications now for the creative industries?

How will the Brexit result affect the Creative Arts in the UK?

In a survey of its members at the start of 2016, the Creative Industries Federation found that 96% of its members were in favour of staying in the EU. Why? The primary reasons given in the result were the availability of the arts funding for EU members, and the ability for creative talent to move freely around the bloc.

Knowledge, Skills and Expertise

We know that the creative arts has always thrived on the exchange of knowledge, skills and expertise from around the world. Being part of the EU has made this a much simpler practice for creative industry practitioners because of the free movement offered to the EU’s residents. If you wanted to spend a month in Paris interning at a couture designer house, that was easy. Maybe you planned to pop to Italy for three months in the summer to study various painting or drawing techniques. Or maybe you’re a poet or writer thinking about a residency in Germany? With this free movement now off the table, and new rules for Brits expected to be complicated, travel within the EU for such adventure and opportunities could become rather restricted.

One of the biggest let downs is the way in which any creative who would like to train at a European institution will now suffer a probable increase in student fees alongside the expected application / visa issues.

What will happen to art education possibilities?

Rising costs for our students within Europe.

We are all aware that the cost of studying in the UK is now rather high. For international (non-EU) students, fees can be anywhere between £9000 and £32,000 per year. Leaving the EU could now place us Brits in the international category for any overseas programmes we would consider studying within the EU.

So, not only do we already have increased student fee costs implemented in 2012 by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition here in the UK, we could now also have the even higher fees associated with studying within the EU as an international student. How will this affect creatives? With the government cutting back on funding the arts within the UK, and the arts in education being pared back in favour of technology and sciences, what will this really do to the UK arts industry as a whole???

Increased EU student costs here in the UK

The other side to consider are the EU students coming here to study in the UK. If they are currently paying EU rates, their course costs are already slightly higher than that of home students. Now, throw in the fact that they will become international students, and their course costs become prohibitive, will these EU students really want to saddle themselves with almost twice the amount of debt to study in this country? If they decide it is not worth it – and if it were me, I’d definitely be considering other options – that will have a knock on effect on the funding received by our universities, which in turn will affect the quality of the education on offer. If there is less money in the pot for the hiring of world class teaching staff, how do we compete? This could be the start of a slow and steady decline in the standards of higher education here in the UK.

EU Funding: How much funding are we talking about?

The UK has previously had access to the €1.46 billion Creative Europe programme; which came into effect in 2014. The programme allows funding for 250,000 artists and cultural professionals as well as 4,500 literary translations, 2000 cinemas and 800 films up until 2020. Along with the programme, there was also a financial guarantee facility for small to medium sized businesses which allowed access up to £750 million in bank loans, which would ordinarily be hard to receive if your business is in any way associated with the arts.

Currently, it is uncertain what the effect of Brexit will have on our access to the programme. Previous uses of funds have included The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, Candoco Dance Company, The Illuminated Film Company, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Random House and Film London. A mix of unknown and well known names within the arts industries, so it really has been an open for all fund.

Impact reports regarding Creativity

Creative Europe Desk Report

The latest report from the Creative Europe Desk UK can be viewed here.

Arts Council England Report

As well as the above report, there is also a report by the Arts Council England which takes a look at the ‘spillover’ effects of public investment in the arts; how investment in culture, and the creative industries impacts both society and our economy. The report considers three main areas for spillover: knowledge, industry and network.

Knowledge: “new ideas, innovations and processes developed within arts organisations and by artists and creative businesses which spill over into the wider economy and society without directly rewarding those who created them.”

Industry: “the vertical value chain and horizontal cross-sector bene ts to the economy and society in terms of productivity and innovation that stem from the infuence of a dynamic creative industry, businesses, artists, arts organisations or artistic events.”

Network: “the impacts and outcomes to the economy and society that spill over from the presence of a high density of arts and/or creative industries in a specific location (such as a cluster or cultural quarter).”

The full report authored by Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy can be viewed here.

In conclusion

No-one can say for sure how Brexit will impact both arts education and the creative industries here at home. It is only a few days since the result shocked the world. One thing I can say for sure, the immediate effect on the UK – value of the GBP plummeting, billions wiped off the stock markets and the UK credit rating being slashed – does not bode well for the economy, investment in the arts or opportunities for people working in creative fields.

From a personal perspective, I’m shocked and saddened that this country where I was born, that I call home, this country I always thought rather great despite ongoing issues, chose to take us out of the European Union. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive my country for this decision. I may come to terms with it, like many other ‘remainers’ but I really believe that the decision to leave will have serious and severe implications for all of us.

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