You may not be surprised to learn that (to massively understate it) I am not a supporter of this move. Over the last few years we have seen a sharp rise in this country in racist, xenophobic attitudes and hate crimes, alongside a deeply disturbing burgeoning ‘Little Englander’ attitude and no-one is ever going to convince me that this has nothing to do with Brexit.
Leaving the EU makes no sense to me on any level – as a proud European, as the daughter of a refugee who fled to this once welcoming country for safety, as a supporter of the arts and the inclusivity they offer, and least of all as a human being who believes passionately in peace, equality and understanding.
What Brexit will mean in terms of the impact on our day-to-day lives is still unclear. It is most certainly not a foregone conclusion, despite what ardent Leavers proclaim, that all will be well. The effect on the arts and culture is likely to be particularly disruptive.
For years, cross-border, pan-European collaborations have been taking place across every artform – orchestras, art galleries, theatres, literary and film festivals have worked together, sharing funding much of which has come from the EU, to create the best possible plays, concerts, exhibitions and events for their audiences. And in the process they are building bridges, encouraging empathy and mutual respect, while reminding us, through the work they make together, of our common humanity.
This week The Stage reported that the arts in the UK will inevitably be damaged by the proposed minimum salary rules for immigrants. At the moment those outside the EU wishing to work in the UK must have a job offer with a salary of at least £30,000.
As anyone who has ever worked in the arts will know, there are many skilled jobs which pay well below that figure and if this rule is also applied to EU citizens post-Brexit, it could lead to a shortage of skilled workers in the creative sector, leading to a lowering of quality. This is just one example of how barriers will be put in the way of creativity. Those productive collaborations will be much more difficult.
But if I’ve learnt anything in my nearly three decades as an arts reporter and sometime practitioner it is that the arts community will always come through. They will always find a way to make those creative, human connections, to tell the stories that need to be told. And there is hope in that.