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Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England. Photo: Alicia Canter for The Guardian.

Cultural Leaders Fight to Protect Free Movement of Artists Post-Brexit

More than four hundred cultural, educational, and scientific organizations and representatives from across Europe have endorsed “Our Shared European Future,” a series of recommendations for Brexit negotiators in the European Union and the UK, which calls for the protection of cultural exchange across borders.

The document urges politicians to introduce measures such as cultural and educational permits, which will allow people and assets operating in the education, science, culture, and research sectors to continue to move with ease between the UK and the EU. It also calls for the UK to continue contributing to multilateral programs such as Creative Europe so that it may remain effective and UK institutions and individuals can remain eligible for inclusion in its programming. In addition, the cultural leaders are calling for the UK to guarantee residency for EU nationals working in the UK as well as British nationals working in the EU.

Other key recommendations include engaging with young people on post-Brexit policy-making; maintaining equal intellectual property and copyright laws between the UK and EU; and consulting with leaders and experts in the arts, education, science, and research fields in order to make informed decisions.

“For centuries, British scholars, scientists, artists have worked and shared ideas with their European counterparts, producing an untold number of scientific breakthroughs, academic achievements and great works of art, enriching us culturally and economically,” the communiqué states. “This exchange of ideas and creativity has survived wars and revolutions. We must ensure it survives Brexit, and indeed future challenges in a changing Europe.”

Among the organizations and individuals supporting the call are the UK’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Art Fund, as well as the European Cultural Foundation, Netherlands; Culture Action Europe, Belgium; the Slovak Arts Council, Slovakia; the National Theater of Budapest, Romania; the National Gallery of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland; the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal; and a number of universities.

Since it was published earlier this month, the document has been submitted to Brexit negotiators in the UK and EU, including the UK government and the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.

At a conference for the Creative Industries Federation in London on July 12, Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, and Tristram Hunt, the director of the V&A Museum, discussed the cultural impact of Brexit. Serota, who resigned as director of the Tate last year, said that Brexit “reminded us of how valuable international work and exchange has become for the quality, diversity, and strength of our national culture. A two-way flow of talent is crucial to the arts in Britain. It is the interaction of forces that has made British culture so rich and increasingly complex.”

In an attempt to prevent the UK’s cultural scene from becoming “stagnate” and “irrelevant to a changing world,” Serota announced that Arts Council England is creating a Creative Practitioners Fund for creatives to “experience the value of working abroad.”

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