Anxiety deepens over risk of no-deal Brexit - Museums Association

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Anxiety deepens over risk of no-deal Brexit

Cultural institutions express concerns over funding, staffing and the impact on the communities they serve. Rob Sharp reports
Museums and other arts organisations continue to prepare for the risk of a no-deal Brexit and warn of a continuing lack of clarity, risks to staffing and potential supply chain disruption.

Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association (MA), says: “The thing that concerns me most about Brexit – deal or no deal – is the impact on the communities that museums serve.

“We are, of course, concerned about EU staff that work here, supply chain disruption and the impact on tourism and funding. But the debate about leaving has been extremely divisive, and the public are rapidly losing faith in politicians and those that claim to represent them.

“Museums can play a critical role in exploring identity and place, and are uniquely placed to provide context for some of these contentious discussions.
“When the public and civic realm is shrinking, museums can be welcoming places to heal divides and forge new and interesting partnerships.”

An MA statement on the potential damage of a no-deal Brexit says: “We’re concerned about the prospect of further museum closures, reduced opening hours, staff cuts and a reduced public offer at precisely the time when communities need museums and the powerful role they can play in society most.”

Arts Council England (ACE) has published a guide to help arts and cultural organisations identify the government information they will need in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  

Laura Dyer, ACE’s deputy chief executive, places and engagement, says: “It is important that arts and cultural organisations are prepared for the possibility of a no-deal scenario. As the development body for the arts, museums and libraries, we want to do all we can to help them do that.”

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, organisations would no longer receive funding under EU programmes such as the European Regional Development Fund.

ACE recommends institutions advise EU staff to register for the government’s settlement scheme, to allow them to continue working in the UK.

Ulster University and the Irish Museums Association published a report last year recommending an audit of Brexit’s potential impact on the workforce, funding, policy, planning and practice, training and partnerships.

The Northern Ireland Museums Council and the UK Committee for the International Council of Museums are holding a conference at the British Library this month to explore how international networks can support cross-border collaborations.

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