How a no-deal Brexit could affect arts, culture and heritage organisations

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 17.10.2019
Government publishes checklist weeks before scheduled departure date
The UK government has published a 10-point checklist for arts, culture and heritage organisations in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The checklist covers the implications for touring Europe; employees; data; arts, culture and heritage services including online; and EU funding. It provides additional guidance on touring, customs procedures, travel requirements, visas and work permits, the EU Settlement Scheme, licences, and government funding guarantees.

As it stands, the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, although the government will be legally obliged to ask for an extension if it fails to agree a deal this week.

The Museums Association’s (MA) policy manager, Alistair Brown, said: “We have been clear that we don’t support a no-deal Brexit. It would be enormously damaging for the country and would have many direct and indirect consequences for the museums sector.

“We should treat no-deal Brexit as a real risk, whether at the end of October or at a later date. While there are many impacts that we cannot mitigate or prepare for, there are also many things that we should be doing.

“There is now some practical advice available to museums via the government website, and we would encourage museums to have a look at it if they are concerned about things such as the status of loans to and from the EU; the status of EU employees in museums; rights to travel, attend meetings and work in the EU; and the impact of no-deal Brexit on tourism.

“We would also encourage anyone who is encountering serious problems because of the possibility of a no-deal Brexit to get in touch with us at the MA, or speak directly with the arms-length bodies in your nation or region.”

Brexit has serious implications for the culture, museum and heritage sectors across the UK. Among the devolved nations, Wales is a particular beneficiary of EU funding, while the political upheaval has led to growing calls for Scottish independence and fears about a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Irish Museums Association (IMA) published a report earlier this month looking at the effect of Brexit on the museum and cultural sectors across Ireland. Bridge over Brexitincludes case studies on how museums can act as “safe, shared spaces within which difficult questions can be asked and explored”.

In a foreword to the report, the IMA’s chair William Blair, wrote: “With the prospect of changing relationships due to the UK’s exit from the EU, the challenge for the museum sector is to not allow this disrupt the strong and effective cultural partnerships that currently exist and have been mutually beneficial to both sides of the border. Brexit may cause difficulties for our sector but it will not prevent the continuing of collaborations that evidence our unique bond.”