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Brexit insecurity threat to Scottish arts and culture

More than a quarter of artists and art workers are considering or planning to leave Scotland because of Brexit according to a new survey. This figure was almost twice as high amongst foreign Scotland based artworkers.

This potential significant departure could devastate Scotland’s diverse, internationally renowned arts community. The survey shows that 26% of all respondents were considering or planning to leave Scotland and the UK after Brexit, rising to 57% of (other) EU nationals and 36% of nationals from outwith the EU. Only 5% have applied for UK citizenship, with a third considering applying.

Not only the arts will be affected. More than half of all those who replied to the survey also work in other jobs across the public, private and third sectors. The ripple effect of migration will therefore affect the wider workforce, as well as impacting on families and communities: a third of foreign Scottish based artworkers support dependents in Scotland.

The survey, undertaken by the Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST) and the Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN), confirms widespread concern about Brexit within Scotland’s creative communities and provides evidence of the scale of the potential impacts.

Over half of all respondents regularly work outside of the UK, with nearly a third of total income coming from non-UK sources. More than half (57%) of all respondents say that Brexit has already had a negative impact on their work and business. 90% expect that Brexit will have a negative impact on the arts sector in Scotland over the next few years.

When asked what support would be beneficial, respondents most frequently requested more information and advice about how to deal with Brexit, with specific concerns around visas, funding, travel and import/export and customs.

FST and SCAN welcome the announcement from the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs on the EU Citizens’ Rights Project, and look forward to the rapid provision of similar advice and guidance for those whose livelihood depends on being able to work in the EU and secure EU sources of funding and income.

Seonaid Daly, Director of SCAN, commenting on the research said:

“This is the first hard evidence we’ve seen about the potential exodus of our international peers and colleagues who all help make Scotland’s visual art scene so vibrant and globally respected. This, as well as increasing pressure on budgets across the board, paints a very bleak picture for the future of Scottish visual arts.” 

Jude Henderson, Director of FST, added:

“The research confirms what we hear every day from our members.  Scotland’s performing arts practitioners and companies are connected and renowned worldwide, and have especially strong and productive links with our European partners.  The potential loss of talent, networks and funding post-Brexit threatens access to arts and culture at home as well as making Scotland less visible around the world.”

The survey was carried out by Edinburgh-based independent consultancy Ruthless Research to feed into the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee’s ongoing monitoring and scrutiny of the Article 50 withdrawal negotiations and their implications for Scotland.  The full research report, which sets out the views of  around 350 respondents across a variety of artforms, has today been submitted to the Committee.



Notes to Editors

  1. Federation of Scottish Theatre is the membership and development body for professional dance, opera and theatre in Scotland. We bring the sector together to speak with a collective voice, to share resources and expertise and to promote collaborative working.  For more information visit www.scottishtheatre.org or follow us on Twitter @FedScotTheatre
  2. Scottish Contemporary Art Network is a member led network committed to championing and supporting the contemporary art sector in Scotland. We provide the forum, impetus and support for the sector to pursue knowledge sharing, networking, research, professional development, and advocacy.  For more information visit https://sca-net.org/ or follow us on Twitter @sca_net
  3. Contact:     (for FST) Jude Henderson 07764 567231 | (for SCAN) Seonaid Daly 07984281989
  4. For information on Ruthless Research visit www.ruthlessresearch.co.uk/
  5. Information on the Parliamentary Inquiry can be found here:


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