What has the EU done for British arts?

There has been a lot of talk about different aspects of the EU referendum: the economy, immigration and trade being the big talking points, but what impact does the EU have on arts and culture?

What has the EU done for British arts?

The main arguments in favour would be that artists benefit from EU funding. During its first two years (2014 – 2015), Creative Europe has supported 230 UK cultural and creative organisations and audiovisual companies as well as the cinema distribution of 84 UK films in other European countries with grants totalling €40 million. Considering there have been significant cuts to UK Arts funding in recent years, this income is incredibly significant to the arts sector. Alongside this, EU legislation such as copyright regulation can help to protect artists and their work, while freedom of movement in Europe can facilitate business and exposure for a wide range of artists and arts organisations.

So what would be the arguments against? There is the question of whether our contribution to the EU is worth the return we get in various benefits. Equally a general sense of patriotism could see us invest in homegrown talent and opportunities.

If Brexit were to happen, I would love to see the UK Government putting money into the arts - I genuinely believe we should be proud of the talent, artists and culture we produce and I believe investment in this is valuable as part of our national culture. However, since the last few years have seen cuts to arts funding and closures of many organisations including libraries, I doubt that this will happen. Even if Brexit were to have a positive impact on our economy, which I remain doubtful on, I believe the lack of European funding would be a serious blow to aspiring artists.

And this is without even considering what freedom of movement can offer our culture, and how it can inspire collaboration and foster creativity - many successful British artists have worked, lived, exhibited and sought opportunities across Europe.

Looking primarily at literature, examples of successful writers include the like of Sebastian Faulks and JK Rowling, both of whom have been vocal in support of the Remain Campaign. Writers have overwhelmingly showed their support of Stronger In with a number of writers from across Europe, such as Elena Ferrante and Javier Marías, writing letters, urging us to stay.

And perhaps the most vocal writer of all, JK Rowling has published her thoughts on how we have created monsters by telling the story this way. While she recognises these monsters come from both sides, Rowling highlights that the Leave campaign is built on an atmosphere of fear and scaremongering, particularly about immigration and the 'migrant crisis'.

I believe that choosing to stay is not only best for the arts, but also for you people. Those aged 16-24 are more likely to vote remain, but a significant number of these aren't be eligible to vote for a future that has real consequences for them. Make your vote count, and trust in a stronger, collaborative and more inclusive partnership with the countries of Europe.

And to celebrate this partnership, whether we remain or not, check out my top European reads:

Don QuixoteMiguel de Cervantes, (1605, 1615) Spain

The Unbearable Lightness of BeingMilan Kundera , (1984) Czech Republic

BlindnessJosé Saramago, (1995) Portugal

Germinal, Émile Zola, (1885) France

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, (2005) Sweden


Ellen Orange

Ellen Orange Contributor

I am a 24 year old Marketing Officer from the North East with a passion for arts and writing. I did a BA in English Literature and an MA in Twentieth and Twenty First Century Literature at Durham University, because I love books and reading! I have experience in writing for a variety of student publications, as well as having contributed to Living North, a regional magazine and Culture magazine, a supplement to regional newspaper, The Journal. I have been part of a Young Journalists scheme writing for NewcastleGateshead's Juice Festival, a young people's arts and culture festival, and have since become a Team Juice member. As well as reading and writing, I love theatre, photography and crafts.

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