Jude Kelly at the Creative Industries Federation EU debate (c) ianwatts.uk

Brexit would be "harmful" for museums

Lucy Alderson, 20.04.2016
Museums would lose out on vital funding, says Jude Kelly
The artistic director of the Southbank Centre, London, said that leaving the EU would be harmful for museums.

Speaking at a debate at the British Library yesterday evening, Jude Kelly, who is part of the Stronger In campaign, said that arts and culture would be “more driven on pounds, shilling and pence” if Britain was to leave the EU.

“Europe is looking at our museums, galleries and investing in these more and more,” she said. “To pull out would be to lose all of that at a time when we have maximum influence over it.”

Kelly said that even though the amount of EU funding is small compared to the overall amount of funding given to the UK’s cultural sector, this funding is vital in supporting new innovative projects.

Harriet Bridgeman, the founder of the Bridgeman Art Library and part of the Vote
Leave campaign, said that museums desperately need money but that we would do a better job ourselves of funding them if we left the EU.

“We give €350m a week to the EU and we’ll have that money to spend on the arts,” she said. “We can be more in control and spend our own money how we would like to spend it.”

The debate, held by the Creative Industries Federation, was focused on whether arts and culture in Britain would be better or worse off if it were to leave the EU.

Martha Lane-Fox, a businesswoman and public servant, and Maria Eagle, the shadow culture secretary, joined Kelly in arguing for the Stronger In campaign. Representing the Vote Leave campaign along with Bridgeman were Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education and culture, and Luke Johnson, the former chairman of the Royal Society of Arts and Channel 4.

The Museums Association’s policy officer, Alistair Brown, said that the Vote Leave Campaign has failed to show how the UK’s cultural sector would be better off if it left Europe.

“Culture has not been a feature of the debate on EU membership so far, yet the impact on museums could be significant,” he said.

“At present, museums benefit from a wide range of EU funding streams, as well as research collaborations and cultural partnerships. The Vote Leave campaign has still not shown how leaving the EU would benefit the UK’s cultural sector, and that’s a real concern as we approach the referendum.”