June 24, 2016 brought a rude awakening for many. The results of the Brexit referendum couldn’t have been tighter: 51.9 percent of British voters decided the UK should withdraw from the European Union.
Many people in the cultural scene were shocked, while others were excited by the results. Nine months later, wounds have been healed, with pragmatists, such as the director of the German Cultural Council, Olaf Zimmermann, and the head of the Goethe-Institut in London, Angela Kaya, publicly offering a confident perspective.
Zimmermann urged quick negotiations with British cultural institutions to maintain the island’s ties with Europe: “We need a special program for bilateral cultural exchanges,” he told DW. Great Britain must become an associate country for EU cultural funding, to allow collaborations with British cultural institutions, he explained. “We must lay the foundations for this now.”
Making the best of the situation
Angela Kaya, director of the Goethe-Institut in London, described the views in the cultural scene as “ranging from fatalism to optimism.” She has met individuals and institutions that aim to make the best of Brexit, whereas others see themselves as such an integral part of the European cultural scene that they can’t imagine how things can possibly go on post-Brexit.
A combination of shock, motivation and fears for the future can be therefore be felt throughout the country’s cultural institutions.
The insecurity is also an economic one. The cultural industry, which includes film, the art trade and the TV industry, contributes 84.1 billion pounds (97 billion euros) to the British economy. Europe is England’s most important export market in the cultural field, according to a study by Creative Industries Federation, an independent body of cultural institutions and businesses in the UK.
Access to this market is threatened through Brexit. A…