The UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) has been widely discussed in the arts, culture and heritage sector. It leaves a complex and uncertain situation for many organisations.
You may have already been directly affected by the UK’s departure (e.g. new visa requirements for artists or import duty on some materials) or be uncertain what steps you need to take as a result. There are some simple steps that you can take to ensure your organisation can successfully adjust to life outside the EU.
In this guide our expert, Dr Patrick Glen, University of Leeds, aims to help you to identify ways that you can:
- respond to challenges to your organisation’s financial health and funding
- anticipate workforce and training issues in the post-Brexit environment
- manage changes to your partnerships with organisations based in EU member states.
The economic legacy of Brexit is difficult to predict accurately at this point – perhaps even more so due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the effects of the UK government’s economic policy of austerity and subsequent low levels of funding for the heritage sector is likely to be made worse by the uncertainty caused by Brexit.
Recent research by the Museums Association has shown a near one-third decline in local authority funding awarded to museums across the UK since 2010. Brexit may compound the situation further.
Indeed, as the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) noted, community-based organisations will, in a period of economic uncertainty and reduced public amenities, bear more of the brunt of these changes as people seek opportunities for support from non-governmental organisations. In this case, small arts and heritage organisations find themselves becoming providers of a wider range of social services and community support initiatives as part of their community offer.
For the most part, EU funding will become more difficult to access for heritage organisations. From 2007-2016, the EU granted £450m to heritage-related projects in the UK. The loss of EU funding will leave a significant shortfall and you will need to factor this in when making any plans to grow your organisation, start new projects and develop partnerships with organisations in EU member states.
The UK will continue receive funding under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework for existing projects and, at the time of writing, UK organisations can continue to bid for EU funding.
The end to the freedom of movement for EU citizens will have a direct effect on the recruitment to the heritage sector on volunteers and workers from the EU.
EU citizens without an existing right to work in the UK will face greater difficulties with gaining work visas. Potential workers from EU states (apart from Ireland) will have to apply for work visas through the UK’s ‘points based immigration system’.
Brexit is also likely to affect the recruitment of volunteers. Workers from the EU looking to gain experience by volunteering in the heritage sector no longer have the right to live and work in the UK. The NCVO recommend that heritage leaders plan accordingly:
Trustees need to increase training or HR budgets in order to bolster local recruitment, particularly in geographical areas where local services rely heavily on low-skilled migration
Quote by NCVO
Alternative sources of labour
One approach you may consider is working with people in the UK under the Youth Mobility Scheme. This scheme allows 20,000 young people (aged 18 to 30 years old) to visit the UK to work and travel each year. It is important to note that your organisation is responsible for knowing whether your employees and volunteers have a right to work in the UK.
The Kickstart programme is also a potential route for UK citizens aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of becoming long-term unemployed to gain experience through placements.
If there is a skills deficit in your workforce due to Brexit, the DCMS’s Digital Skills for Heritage programme provides resources and training for heritage organisations.
If you work with an organisation from EU member states and Northern Ireland, it is likely that you have already noticed some changes.
You will encounter changes to the way goods are imported and exported to and from the EU, moving goods to or from the Northern Ireland, and providing services to EU countries. If you are exporting goods of ‘cultural interest’ from the UK, such as a loan to an EU-based heritage organisation for an exhibition, you will require a licence granted by the Arts Council.
If you plan to visit a partner organisation from an EU country (and also Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) for less than 90 days in a 180-day period you can attend meetings without requiring a visa or work permit. However, you will need one if you stay longer than 180 days or work for more than 90 days within the initial period.
Raising public awareness
The NCVO has published guidance for charities on the possible impacts of Brexit.
The Kickstart programme gives 16-24 year old UK citizens experience through placements.
The Youth Mobility Scheme allows young people to visit the UK for work and travel each year.
DCMS’ Digital Skills for Heritage programme provides resources and training for heritage organisations.
Please attribute as: "A guide to what leaving the EU will mean for the heritage sector and how greater digital awareness may help (2022) by Dr Patrick Glen supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0