Many commentators in the arts and culture sector have commented on the impact which Brexit could have in terms of arts delivery in a Scotland outside the European Union (EU).
Our Partner and Head of Charities, Gavin McEwan, is the chairman of Live Music Now Scotland (LMNS) – a charity which delivers live music and helps to develop young musicians at the outset of their professional careers, both within and outwith Scotland. Much of the work which LMNS carries out takes place in Scotland, but many projects take place across the rest of the UK, the EU and further afield.
One of the biggest issues which could impact on a charity like LMNS and its output is the possible restriction on freedom of movement post-Brexit. Carol Main, the director of LMNS was recently interviewed for BBC Radio 3 on this subject. Carol explained:
“There are a number of issues of concern in relation to our international work. If there are restrictions on how freely musicians can live, study and work abroad, then collaborations between musicians from different countries will simply not happen. A trio comprising of a musician from each of Scotland, Ireland and Spain, for example, or a group of singers who work regularly with a Maltese pianist – these are the kinds of opportunities which can help musicians from home and abroad to develop their skills, their performing practice and their personal development. Restrictions which prevent or hinder these opportunities would represent a great loss to Scotland’s arts sector.”
Charities often also fund Scots to continue their education or career development abroad, with the hope and intention that they will bring the skills which they have learned back to Scotland, for the benefit not just of themselves but also of their communities and the nation as a whole. “These opportunities, which include peer to peer learning and a sharing of experiences across borders are in danger of being lost,” Carol explains.
Many charities working internationally – and not just within the arts sphere – feel that, for Scotland to flourish, there needs to be a broadening of horizons and a genuine international approach to learning and activities. Restrictions on freedom of movement could hamper that process and start to thwart a wide range of work which currently is carried out without barriers. The concerns of the arts sector are, therefore, reflected across a large part of the charity sector: it is not just arts and culture charities which are concerned about the closure of funding opportunities from within the EU.
It is not clear at present which, if any, of the charitable and not for profit funding routes open to charities in EU Member States would remain open to British charities post-Brexit. While other opportunities could undoubtedly be nurtured and grown, the existing EU connection which charities have built up could end up being thwarted. The next two years may involve a major rethinking of whether and how charities based in Scotland will be able to continue working within the EU, or how easy it will be to bring people from Europe to Scotland to enhance charitable work carried out here. This could be difficult for many charities to tackle given ongoing issues around financial resilience and wider social and political pressures. The sector has a major challenge to face up to as Brexit draws ever nearer.