European Union flags in front of the Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr.

Culture Workers Protest UK’s Withdrawal from Creative Europe Program

An open letter addressed to the newly appointed UK culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, and signed by more than 680 culture workers is protesting the government’s decision to leave the European Union–backed Creative Europe program, which has invested more than $175 billion into creative industries across the EU in the last six years, reports the Art Newspaper. Liverpool Biennial director Fatoş Üstek, playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery director Alistair Hudson are among the signatories.

The letter, which was spearheaded by the London-based arts production agency Artsadmin, argues that the “decision threatens an impoverished future for British creativity and sends the message that the UK is closing itself off to our nearest neighbors. . . . Moreover, this decision makes no financial sense. It is well established that Creative Europe grants have delivered a net benefit back to the UK creative economy on both soft and hard measures (worth €74m since 2014, benefitting 334 organizations), leveraging additional funding, helping to create employment.”

Creative Europe Desk UK announced that the withdrawal, which would not be effective until December, would not impact funding for current programming, and that all ongoing projects “will receive funding for their full duration under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, including projects that continue after January 1, 2021.” Many cultural organizations fear that the move will hurt the international mobility of artists and will make collaborating with countries in the bloc more difficult. 

In response to the withdrawal, Caroline Norbury, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, said: “As the UK approaches this critical juncture, it is vital that we continue to prosper as a global leader in creativity and creative enterprise. We call on government to ensure that equivalent, replacement funding and support is committed as a matter of urgency.”