At the time of writing, it is still unclear whether the UK will or won’t leave the EU on 31st October.
The political sphere could not be more fragile, and while I try and make an effort to avoid hard politics in this column, it seems impossible to ignore such a huge issue at this vital moment
In Scotland, there is a widespread consensus against Brexit. Various economic models attempt to predict the economic damage that Brexit will undoubtedly cause, yet no modelling can assess the untold cultural damage that leaving the European Union will mean for Scotland.
Make no mistake – Brexit is a real and present threat to the cultural fabric of Scotland.
It threatens our nation’s ability to attract artists, musicians, performers and creatives from across Europe and the world.
The UK government’s driving aim to bring an end to Freedom of Movement means the horizons of Scots keen to export their works to the world are narrowed, and the ability of those across Europe to travel freely to Scotland will come to an abrupt – and unwanted – end.
This is not to say that people won’t be able to come, but rather that the drawbridge has been metaphorically raised – making Scotland a less desirable place to visit due to travel logistics while it remains part of Brexit Britain.
This kind of morbid future could not be a further cry from the positive, engaging campaign for Scottish independence.
One of my overarching memories from the 2014 referendum was the huge number of cultural icons who backed an independent Scotland. In the months running up to the referendum, press nights across Scotland’s theatres were full of creatives and journalists with Yes badges proudly on display.
This was a movement that was ‘cool’ to get behind.
The message of hope from the campaign for Scottish independence in 2014 only seems to have multiplied in the arts sector in light of Brexit.
Only last month, another impressive list of some of Scotland’s best known artists backed the campaign for Scottish independence.
While Brexit may strengthen the arguments behind Scottish independence, the present threat of Brexit looms heavy over the creative sector.
The UK government’s half-baked plans for immigration post Brexit are far from inspiring for our artist friends across Europe. Many projects that rely on vital EU funds have no security under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and other guises, which is supposed to replace EU funding post-Brexit.
I recently despaired about the lack of understanding from the UK government on the potential impact to the arts of Brexit.
Irish balladeer Christy Moore once said of Margaret Thatcher, “There can be one good thing said about Thatcher – there were many great swings written about her”. Could the same be said for Brexit…?
Originally published in The Scots Independent newspaper