As we Australians wait to see how the results from our recent election might play out for arts and higher education, we should spare a thought for our colleagues in the UK who are grappling with the seismic shifts that the decision to leave the EU will deliver.
Although Britain’s post Brexit world is still a long way from being settled, some of the practical challenges of life outside the EU are emerging from the UK arts community.
UK access to funding from EU sources such as the MEDIA program, the €1.3 billion Creative Europe programme and investment support for creative industries companies is almost certain to be affected and there are concerns that changed trade restrictions will impact upon the health of the creative industries, with entertainment unions Equity and the Musicians Union expressing deep dismay. The message from the film sector is largely negative with particular concerns about the future of co-production and distribution. In music, the practicalities of EU performers needing to pay for visas every time they perform in the UK, and vice-versa, is seen as a major risk to the economic viability of touring.
In the tertiary sector, university art schools and institutes will be affected by uncertainties surrounding the continued UK participation in the EU ERASMUS student exchange program and the larger research funding programs. In addition to the effect upon student enrolments, EU nationals currently employed within UK universities face uncertainty about their ongoing employment status and conditions. The Principal of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where 19% of the student body comes from the EU, fears a devastating affect on student numbers and associated staffing levels from the removal of study support for EU students, which would see fees raise from the current UK£9,000 to over £30,000 in line with non EU student fees.
As the political fog surrounding Britain’s relationship with the EU continues, it is clear that practitioners, companies, educators, staff and students involved in creative arts are in for a stressful time.