The UK Arts Sector After Brexit: A Series of Workshops and Reports for Knowledge Sharing and Policy Advising

by | Aug 6, 2021 | Arts Management and Museology, Engagement and outreach, Equality and Diversity, History, Research | 0 comments

Written by Dr Charlotte Faucher 

The Creative Manchester-funded project was centered around two workshops, the first of which took place in February 2021 with 30 participants. The topic was ‘Where Are We Now? The Arts Sector Two Months after Brexit’. It was moderated by Dr Tom Fleming, Director of Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, and Dr Charlotte Faucher introduced the event, reminding the audience of her November 2020 report on ‘The Arts after Brexit’, funded as part of The University of Manchester Knowledge Exchange scheme. In particular, Dr Faucher insisted on the following points:

  • A two-year hiatus? Arts and cultural organisations have refrained from planning projects with EU partners as a result of uncertainty regarding future regulations;
  • The damage of leaving Creative Europe without a replacement fund;
  • Loss of leadership on the part of UK organisations;
  • Impact of Brexit on the UK’s soft power;
  • Overlapping consequences of Brexit and Covid-19: the sector must address these issues to a greater extent than most sectors;
  • Some solutions! EU schemes, including transnational networks of cities (Eurocities), engagement with European cultural institutes (European Union National Institutes for Culture; EUNIC), and international schemes supported by government agencies and charities (British Council, The Arts Council England).

This introduction was followed by a talk on ‘Developing EU-UK Cultural Partnerships In 2021 And Beyond’ delivered by Geoffrey Brown, Director of Euclid, a Manchester-based organisation that specialises in EU funding and advising for the arts. The second half of the workshop took place in break-out sessions. The aim was to investigate the short- and long-term impact (benefits and challenges) of Brexit on participants organisation’s links with the UK/EU member states and to identify means to maintain connections and initiate projects with counterparts in the UK/EU.

Following the workshop, Dr Faucher authored a piece for History and Policy, entitled ‘Back to the 1930s? After Brexit the UK Arts sector Is Longing for Links with Countries in Continental Europe’. Dr Faucher has also submitted an updated version of her November 2020 report to an academic journal and was invited to present her work at the University of Newcastle and the Popular University in Grenoble, France.

The second workshop funded by Creative Manchester took place online in July 2021 and was attended by 40 participants (video available here). This roundtable focused on ‘Post-Brexit and Post-Covid EU Mobility for the UK Arts and Creative Industries’ and gathered experts: Dave Moutrey, CEO at HOME Manchester & Director of Culture for Manchester City Council; Marie Le Sourd, Secretary General of On the Move; Toni Attard, Founder and Director of Culture Venture & member of the Cultural Policy Designers Network; Geoffrey Brown, Director of Euclid. It was introduced by Dr Faucher and moderated by Dr Fleming.

The roundtable’s rationale was as follows: As the UK emerges from the pandemic, the arts and cultural sector are hoping to resume ‘in person’ collaboration with partners abroad, including in EU member states. However, the sector must face a context which is completely different from the pre-pandemic and pre-Brexit period and with which it had been so familiar over the past decades. Indeed, arts managers, and practitioners intending to launch projects abroad face new regulations instigated by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, as well as the recent industry-specific policies developed by the government since January 2021. The UK’s new status as ‘third country’ in schemes such as Erasmus+ or Creative Europe is also shaping cultural mobility and artistic collaboration between the UK and EU-members states.

What came out of the speakers’ talks and the Q&A with the audience were several points:

  • A worrying lack of information available to UK arts managers who are hoping to maintain links with EU partners;
  • Shifting views on mobility in the arts that tie with the climate emergency and are also informed by organisations’ experiences during the pandemic;
  • An appetite to maintain links with EU members;
  • Emerging, but potentially fragile, solutions to build partnerships with organisations in the EU.

Dr Faucher has been commissioned to write an updated piece on her research for the journal Arts Professional and is also waiting to receive ethics approval to gather further data on the question of UK-EU mobility for the arts with a view to write a second journal article.

Project duration: February – July 2021

Project lead: Dr Charlotte Faucher (British Academy postdoctoral fellow, Dept. of History, UoM)

External Partner: Dr Tom Fleming (Director of Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy)

Audiences involved: Professionals in the arts and creative industries based in the UK and EU member states, journalists, and policy makers (council staff, the government and connected bodies, embassy staff, civil servants, and staff in European cultural institutes via EUNIC).

Audience feedback: 

“A very interesting discussion, sobering and thoughtful”

Funding source: SALC and Creative Manchester Cultural Engagement Award


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