- 07 Feb 17
Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, spoke about the uncertainty for the Irish arts sector following Brexit at a meeting in Cavan yesterday.
Admitting that the long-term consequences of Brexit have not yet become apparent, Ms McBride highlighted six areas of immediate concern for the Arts Council.
Speaking about the possibility of a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Ms McBride said: "Any border will limit the free movement of artists, arts organisations impacting on N/S and E/W tours with the United Kingdom. As another English-speaking EU country, there is significant movement between jurisdictions by artists and organisations. This will undoubtedly be compromised by the reinstatement of a border."
On the possible disruption to funding EU collaborative projects, Ms McBride had this to say: "Within the context of Creative Europe, it is possible for non-EU countries to participate in the programme under the auspices of a framework agreement with the European Commission (e.g. Moldova and Georgia). It is possible that the EU and UK could explore such a possibility in their negotiations.
"However, post-2018, if the UK is not participating in the Creative Europe Programme as a member state, its overall budget will be negatively affected when the UK’s contributions cease. In such a scenario it is highly likely that the entire programme would contract significantly and fewer projects would be funded, meaning fewer opportunities for culture organisations and artists throughout Europe and in particular from our perspective, that of Irish artists and organisations."
Ms McBride also addressed the monetary implications of Brexit, noting that both currency fluctuations and taxes/tariffs will have an impact on investment and on the ability of arts organisation to continue touring in the UK.
"Arts organisations operate very lean budgets in a highly competitive environment. This means that subsidised work in the arts sector via public investment have very tight production and touring budgets with no flexibility or cushion to manage the inevitable currency fluctuations created by Brexit. It is almost impossible to incorporate such fluctuations into funding schemes therefore future attendance by Irish arts organisations and artists at festivals abroad (especially Edinburgh Fringe) might be put at risk."
Ms McBride described the effect of taxation for companies wishing to tour the UK post-Brexit as being "onerous".
"Currently Irish companies who bring a show to the UK or even go as individual artists can apply for a tax liability waiver, as part of EU agreement to return income earned in other EU states in one’s own state. Once this goes, it will become a much lengthier and more costly process to get paid or become eligible for tax rebates. This would disconcert companies and individuals from travelling.
"VAT rates would also become an issue, especially where a touring company is relying on the supply of certain services or goods on site."
The Arts Council Director also saw that potential problems could arise due to EU data protection laws. "Currently it is not permitted to transfer personal data outside of the EU without the EU having established written agreements with the destination country. (Transferring to the US is now problematic as the agreement was found not to be compliant Schrem vs EU case ).
"This will inevitably impact on the shared North South Touring Scheme operated by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and Arts Council Northern Ireland, where we currently share personal data on North/South touring applications."
Finally, Ms McBride addressed the "cautious" nature of corporations because of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit. "Larger arts organisations with significant corporate income through sponsorship and fundraising are finding that larger companies be they Irish, European or Global with any exposure to the UK market have become much more cautious about making any future commitments to Irish arts organisations, due to the current uncertainty as to the impact of Brexit."