Concerns have been raised about international artistic exchange and the export of cultural products, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. 

Floating union Jack hot air balloon
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Union Jack Balloon by Frozuki (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

The Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA) have pledged to support and safeguard the arts sector as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union.

The result of the referendum – with 52% voting to leave – will come as a disappointment to many in the arts, after leading figures came out in support of Britain staying in the EU and 96% of CIF members said they would vote to remain.

Chief Executive of CIF John Kampfner said: “As the UK creates a new identity and a new position on the world stage, our arts and creative industries – the fastest growing sector in the economy – will play an important role.

“It will be vital for all sides to work together to ensure that the interests of our sector on issues including access to funding and talent are safeguarded as the UK forges its new relationship with Europe. The importance of British culture in representing our country to the world will be greater than ever.”

The Federation pledged to safeguard the future of the UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural education. It will hold a series of events to help the creative community plan for a future out of the EU.

Chair of the NCA Samuel West echoed this pledge, saying it “will do all it can to ensure that an exit from the EU does not mean a fall from our position as world leaders in the arts and creativity”.

He voiced concerns about UK arts organisations’ ability to access European funding, such as the Creative Europe programme, which invested £37m in UK companies between 2007 and 2012. As well as a “host of other issues”, including international artistic exchange, the export of cultural products, copyright and access to training in Europe.

He said: “This is already a tense time for the arts in Britain, with many organisations across the country anticipating significant cuts from their local authorities this autumn. We call on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to do everything in his power to ensure that there is no further damage to the sector as a result of yesterday’s vote.”

With Prime Minister David Cameron announcing his resignation, this tension is expected to rise even further.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “At one level there is obviously now great financial uncertainty – the effect on European funding streams for the arts, for example – but quite as important is the potential effect on the spirit that drives a myriad of international partnerships in the arts.”

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, gave a word of warning: “It is important to remember that for the immediate future, existing laws and agreements relating to EU membership remain in place. We encourage the Government to ensure our members and indeed the music sector as a whole can continue to work and perform in Europe as of whatever new agreements are put in place.”

David Cameron has said he will leave it to his successor to trigger Article 50, the two-year process of leaving the EU.

Read views on how Brexit will affect the arts in ArtsProfessional’s Europe issue.

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A photo of Frances Richens