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Arts Award 'Forming a view' - Brexit and the Arts

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    Hi, this is my article on how brexit will affect the arts. I know that it is emotive and biased, it would be naive to believe that anyone could be neither of these things. Would be interested in views though.
    To Be or not to Be? Brexit is the question!
    In June the United Kingdom was shaken after the surprising result of the EU Referendum. Only the day before highly publicised figures of the Leave campaign seemed to be admitting defeat. However, when the country rose on the Friday it was shocked to find that a 2% lead had been taken by the ‘Brexiteers’ leading the country into a new season of political change. This surprising shift in the political landscape has created much disunity within the country; as well as having a large economic backlash. There has also been an increase in social disunity with a rise in racial attacks especially within highly urbanised areas. The effect of Brexit will also be heavily felt within the arts, however the extent to which is affects generations to come is currently unforeseeable.

    Prior to the vote, a letter was sent to Downing Street from over 250 “of Britain’s best-known actors, artists, musicians and writers warning” of the dangers of leaving the European Union. This letter signed by well-known figures such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter and John Le Carré included many statements of why Britain was better in Europe. These arguments included the benefits of the funding that the EU gives to arts projects throughout the country, as well as the large stage the access to multiple countries gives to the British arts.

    Since the result, more artists have come out in response. This was highly visible at Glastonbury where many bands and solo artists used their set time to openly speak out against the decision. As the second largest export market for music, the EU has relied on the ease of trade between nations to support its creative musical sector. This is also seen through physical movement of bands and artists. Many touring bands such as The 1975 have spoken to newspapers about the difficulties that the vote brings to their European tours and with that the future of large scale touring for smaller bands who do not have the capital for licensing and visa’s. Matt Healy, the lead singer of the aforementioned band went as far to say that “our generation has been robbed of the opportunity for friendships and relationships and work opportunities”. This sentiment has been also seen through other bands such as ZZ Top, Bastille and Paul Heaton.

    However, the effects of Brexit are not merely felt within the music industry. Throughout other areas of the arts there has been large scale outcry. Many experts have also speculated the damage that the vote could do to our exportation of arts goods. The UK is the second largest exporter of television in the world, worth £1.2bn in 2012. It is also home to the second-largest design sector on the planet exporting 131m in 2011 alone. With over 1 and a half million people in our country are employed in the creative sector, a lot of experts worry about the effect of the vote on a large percentage of the population. The effect on art museums and exhibitions has also been highly publicized with many exhibitors less likely to loan artwork to British museums within times of economic instability. The insurance of such artwork also would change depending on the choices made in the post-Brexit talks.

    The ramifications of the UK leaving the European Union are going to be felt for years to come. Prior to the vote many lived with hope that in voting Leave the country would be magically restored to it’s heyday through greater trade with other nations, an extra £350 being pushed into the economy a week through not paying fees to the EU; and a future where a undemocratically run institution like the EU would not have control of us. However, if the past months have taught the British people anything, it should be that nostalgia of an empire is naive; trusting politicians on the leave side has led to chaos, and that the UK system is just as undemocratic in how it’s leaders can come to power. The effects that the arts sector will feel will be large; with probably further cuts to arts project budgets, less government funded schemes and less training being given to these areas. However, it is through hard times like these, that young people with passion in their hearts can use their hurt and anger to create some of the most emotionally staggering artwork that the world has seen. The example of Van Gogh, of how a tortured soul can use that pain to create beauty should be taken by all. Artists should not give up with their passions, and should strive to create an more honest and better world than the one that politicians foresee.

    For some, Brexit is the end of a era. However let it be the beginning of a new chapter.

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