Democracy and the Arts in Europe (series)

A Creative Industries Federation survey suggested that 96% of creatives favoured remaining in the EU. However, now that Article 50 has been triggered and we commence shaping post-Brexit Britain, perhaps the mood is changing? Many cultural figures continue to ask whether Brexit spells disaster for the UK’s cosmopolitan art scene; others are open to the possibility that Brexit might encourage the arts to connect to the public in a new way. For instance, Grayson Perry sees a ‘fantastic’ opportunities to challenge the ‘same old comfortable ideas’ and, in doing so, ‘reach new audiences’. Some posit that an internationalist and enlightened Creative Class is an important antidote to nativist and populist trends. In contrast, David Goodhart argues in his new book that the new cultural divide is between Somewheres and Nowheres. Perhaps the arts might now explore the rootedness of Somewheres, to shine a light on new sensibilities?

Can Brexit – the largest democratic mandate in UK history – become a springboard to transformation of the arts and cultural sectors? Can the act of shaking off EU regulations help create a new critical climate of opinion? If so, what should be our ambitions in reshaping discourse and practice?


28TH MARCH: Artists in a Global World

As Article 50 is triggered and we commence shaping post-Brexit Britain, the first in the series looks at whether borders matter. Should artists have unrestricted freedom of movement? Are artists a special case or should all of us, regardless of profession, be entitled to live and work in the country of our choice? Could Theresa May’s new ‘global Britain’ offer greater opportunities for the arts than an EU-bound Britain? What is the relationship between the local and global? What about cosmopolitanism? How might the creative and cultural sectors engage regional and national identities and traditions?


Munira Mirza is an adviser on arts and philanthropy and has written extensively about cultural and social policy in the UK. She was deputy mayor for Education and Culture at the Greater London Authority. She has worked for cultural and charitable organisations including the Royal Society of Arts, Policy Exchange and Tate. Munira is a Royal Opera House board member and a founding supporter of Change Britain.

Manick Govinda Govinda is Head of Artists’ Advisory Services and a Producer at Artsadmin, vice-chair of a-n the artists information company and convener of the Manifesto Club’s Visiting Artists Campaign. He writes extensively on freedom of movement and free expression matters in the arts. He speaks in a personal capacity.

Eca Eps (aka Sarah Peace) is a Nigerian born writer and artist whose work centres on human rights and conflict, freedom of thought, conscience and expression. Her practice extends across film, photography, intervention, installation and performance. She has exhibited in London, in her second home, Lagos, and internationally. Her work was profiled in Phaidon’s 2015 publication, Creative Dissent in the 21st Century.

Jo Glanville is the director of English PEN, a charity that defends freedom of expression and promotes literature. She was an award-winning editor of Index on Censorship and is a former BBC current affairs producer. She has written for a number of publications including the Guardian and the London Review of Books.

Mark Ball is the outgoing Artistic Director/CEO of London International Festival of Theatre (2009 – 2017). He will become the Associate Artistic Director at Manchester International Festival, focusing on the creation and delivery of the artistic programme for Factory, Manchester’s flagship new space for large-scale performance and art works.

Alastair Donald Donald (Chair) is associate director of the Institute of Ideas. He’s co-founder of think tank New Narratives – a group of designers and artists exploring how to respond to a Post-Brexit world, convenor of the Future Cities Salon, and co-editor of The Lure of the City: from slums to suburbs (2011).

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8TH MAY: The Arts and the public

The second in this series of public debates continues to explore the fundamental issues affecting the future of the arts. Following a lively and packed first event, it asks: Is there role for the arts in Brexit processes and in public debate about them? Do those working in the arts have responsibilities towards the public: to heal rifts? to represent and/or shape public identity/ies? to be iconoclasts? Or should artists distance themselves from public opinion, populism and politics and just concentrate on developing works of artistic merit?
Confirmed speakers
Eddie Berg (Rich Mix)
Vicki Heywood (RSA)
Miriam Elia (artist)
Angus Kennedy (writer)
David Goodhart (Policy Exchange)
chair: Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas)


20TH JUNE: What future for the arts?

The third in the series asks, a year on, will the arts in the UK suffer or gain in leaving the EU? Does the argument that leaving the EU enhances democracy matter to artists? What new narratives are emerging for artists internationally? How should cultural policy be shaped to support the development of the arts and a flourishing creative and cultural sector?

Confirmed speakers
James Heartfield (writer)
Stefano Rabolli Pensera (architect)
Candida Gertler (Outset Contemporary Art Fund)
Judith Knight (Arts Admin)
Pauline Hadaway (cultural researcher)