Belfast Telegraph

Two-way flow of talent is crucial to UK arts, Sir Nicholas Serota warns

There will be a new fund to help creatives work abroad.

Cultures that cut themselves off from the world will “stagnate” and become “irrelevant”, the chair of Arts Council England will warn.

A two-way flow of talent and exchange with other countries is crucial to the arts in Britain because the country has benefited so much from artists, writers and thinkers who have come from abroad, Sir Nicholas Serota is due to say in a speech on Wednesday.

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Sir Nicholas Serota (Justin Tallis/PA)

Addressing the first international conference of the Creative Industries Federation, the former director of Tate art museums will say: “What we are going through now is only one chapter in a history of cultural development and exchange.

“It is the human adventure, a story as old as our collective history, that has over millennia seen the ebb and flow of immigration and emigration; the beneficial influence of incoming cultures: and the export of British ideas and culture.”

Addressing the UK’s departure from the European Union, Sir Nicholas will stress ensuring ease of movement for creatives will be important to the future of the arts.

“Ensuring that there is ease of movement is complex, and the present arrangements are far from perfect,” he is expected to say.

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(Sean Dempsey/PA)

“Irrespective of the vote to leave the EU, we should be looking at the current systems and procedures, and whom they benefit or disadvantage.

“The negotiation creates an opportunity for government to think how the flow of talent can be as smooth as possible.

“How we can retain the conditions that currently work well; and extend these to artists and creatives globally, including those coming for short working visits?

“This is vital if we are to retain the edge we have in highly competitive world markets.”

He will continue: “Right now, the arts need to work harder to be even more strongly representative of the diverse society that we have become.

“We need to be more open: and that also means making the journey out to acquire new experiences, and to share our culture and our skills.

“Cultures that cut themselves off may become exquisite, like a rare breed of animal; but ultimately they stagnate and are irrelevant to a changing world.”

Last year, organisations supported by the Arts Council earned £57.5 million in international income and reached more countries and overseas audiences than ever before

Announcing a new “significant” fund to support individual talent and to encourage artists and producers to experience the value of working abroad, Sir Nicholas will say: “The Creative Practitioners Fund will invest in the work of individuals; it will, importantly, also offer support for research and development.

“And it will be open to practitioners in the wider creative industries – an acknowledgement of how talent flows between us.”

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