So is it as bad as all that?
After the extraordinary Referendum result which seems to have set every sphere of life in the UK spinning, the many voices of the arts were among the first to make themselves heard, almost in unison to express their horror at the prospect. A week later so little is certain that we may not even be leaving the EU after all, with the prospect of a new prime minister who is a Remainer who would have to trigger the actual Brexit, a petition of more than £4m calling for the activation of a clause in the referendum rules that could mean a new one, and much talk of a much less clean break if we do leave. Patrick Kelly’s trenchant analysis of what it all means to the arts will be in next week’s AI.
Now we’ve had a chance to reflect, we’ve had time to be distracted by the headless chicken acts being played out by both major parties, and to think rationally about what it all means to the arts. So is it as bad as all that, as the dust settles?
Well, yes, it is. The financial ramifications in every aspect of our cultural lives have been gone into, and the size of the support we have had from European funds has surprised most of us and its loss will be disastrous, but that isn’t the point either.
It is that the arts, culture, creativity, however you want to describe it, is essentially an open activity. It shares, it includes, it even immerses. It has become philosophically counter-intuitive to put borders on the cultural flow, and while we might love the thought that the Brits are the best at everything creative it isn’t strictly true. What we present might well be the best, but that is because we have no hindrance to great artists visiting, working, performing, showing here, and despite the shameful shouting of some campaigners in recent weeks this country is one of the least racist in the world at core. No musician, actor, writer, dancer, potter, painter, whatever, leaves these shores for however short a time and comes back without having learned something new. Something that makes their vision wider, their understanding more profound, their art better. And vice-versa.
So as we take back control we give away communion, and it will take many decades, if ever, to recover that even if our politicians ever stop their danse macabre and fit the right heads back on. Culture is who we are, not who we will be - and I dread to think about who that might be.