Creative Leaders and Practitioners make their case for Europe

On Thursday, UK voters go to the polls to make the biggest political decision the country has faced for decades.

The Creative Industries Federation surveyed their members and 96 per cent backed Remain for reasons ranging from freedom of movement of talent to ERDF and other EU funding and the desire to be at the table for crucial IP negotiations. 

Click here for a summary of the case, in the words of members who took part in the poll and the EU referendum hustings the Federation held.

Or read it here:





Why is EU membership so important for the health of UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural education?


In order to better understand the impact of a potential exit from the European Union on the UK’s fastest growing sector, the Creative Industries Federation hosted a highlevel debate at the British Library, with representatives from both the Remain and Leave camps, and also conducted a detailed membership survey. The message was clear, with our survey showing:

● 96% support for Remain amongst Federation members, with barely 4% in favour of Leave*.

● 84% of members said EU membership was important to the future of their organisation, with just 1.5% saying it was irrelevant

Members were also invited to comment on the benefits of EU membership to their organisations. Access to EU markets and access to talent were they key concerns for those who responded, with access to funding and influence on regulation also mentioned. The value of EU membership to cultural exchange and diversity was also highlighted by many.

Key findings and quotes from members are summarised below:


1. Access to EU markets:

80% of members cited access to EU markets as a key factor in their decision : the EU is the largest export market for the UK creative industries, totalling 56% of all overseas trade in the sector.

Tom Weldon, chief executive of Penguin Random House, said: “The EU has helped the UK to become a creative powerhouse, thanks to our ability to trade freely with 27 other countries in Europe, through the funding the EU provides to our creative industries, as a source of key talent for a whole range of businesses and institutions.”

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music, said : “We export over 60% of the music made in the UK and the EU single market has helped British music become a world leader. There can be no question that leaving it will have a significant impact, be that shorter longterm.”

Ian Livingstone, chairman of Sumo Digital, said: “The UK video games industry is a good news story about intellectual property creation, exports and growth in a global market worth in excess of $100bn per annum. EU membership brings us unrestricted access to 560 million potential customers.”

Paul Williams, director of Stanton Williams, said: “It is quite obvious that the architecture industry will be badly damaged if the UK leaves the European Union. Although an island, culturally Britain is inextricably woven into the fabric of Europe’s rich and varied landscape it is unthinkable to imagine a future adrift.”


2. Access to talent/freedom of movement:

80% also cited the access to talent offered by EU membership as key to their decision: The UK is a creative hub.

Close collaboration with EU partners is key to Britain maintaining this position. From orchestras to art schools to architecture firms, the UK’s creative industries are enriched by the diversity of cultural exchange and strengthened by the movement of talent across the EU.

Sir John Sorrell CBE, chairman of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “ I have worked in the UK’s creative industries for over 50 years and have seen them transform to become key to the way we are seen by the world, whilst delivering a massive £84.1billion to our economy. A huge part of this success is due to our position as a vital European creative hub, benefiting from working with a network of talented people, companies and institutions across Europe.

We should not underestimate the power of this relationship and its importance to the future success of our creative industries sector. ”

Nigel Carrington, vicechancellor, University of the Arts London, said: "UAL is Europe’s largest specialist university in our field. As such, I believe that EU membership is vital to the UK’s status as a world leader in higher education. In my experience, universities, conservatoires, art, drama, film and fashion schools all benefit from close collaboration with partner organisations across the EU.

“Academic freedom of movement is a fundamental driver of success for students, staff and researchers. As far as I am concerned, the relationships and partnerships forged through European mobility are of massive benefit students and universities. They also strengthen the skills and diversity of our domestic workforce.”

Chris Hirst, CEO UK & Europe of Havas, said: “In an increasingly global business world, advertising and the creative industries as a whole cannot afford to be on the outside. An 'Out' vote would affect our ability to entice talent and to land global accounts here in the UK. It cannot be in our best interests to act like an island in such a connected world.”

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said: “The UK’s worldleading creative tech sector has blended arts and creativity with technology to create worldleading video games, digital fashion innovations and ad tech products. Companies benefit from being in the EU for talent and private sector investment, which is why 87% of Tech London Advocates back remaining in the EU.”

Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras, said: “Music transcends borders. And freedom of movement means that our orchestras are able to attract the very best musicians from across the EU, ensuring they can survive in a globally competitive market. Europe is good for our business we want to Remain.”


3. Access to funding:

52% were concerned about the implications of Brexit on access to EU funding. For example, the Creative Europe programme has provided support for films such as The King’s Speech, The Iron Lady and Slumdog Millionaire and ERDF has made grants to arts organisations in the regions, including Sage Gateshead, Manchester’s HOME and Falmouth University. In addition, Federation cultural education members benefit from the € 80bn innovation fund, Horizon 2020 and Erasmus schemes. All this could be imperilled.

John Tulip, managing director of Northern Film and Media in Newcastle upon Tyne, said: “ Like many organisations in our creatives industries, we would have shut down without backing from the European Regional Development Fund. Whether the imperative is economic or cultural, the case for remaining seems from our perspective to be overwhelmingly clear.”

Andrea Stark, chief executive of High House Production Park in Thurrock, said: “Our new costume centre would not have been possible without support from the European Regional Development Fund crucially it unlocked the other funds necessary to make this development happen. The Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre will house costumes for Royal Opera House productions, and a new BA (Hons.) degree course in costume construction will be delivered from the centre’s bespoke workrooms.”

Professor Anne Carlisle, vice-chancellor of Falmouth University, said: “ With EU support, universities generate local growth and jobs through support for projects which build new companies, foster entrepreneurship and increase wages. This is nowhere more evident than in Cornwall. Falmouth University has been a major beneficiary of EU funding which has only benefitted the Cornish economy.”

Tom Inns, director of Glasgow School of Art, said: “Don’t underestimate how significant European funding, networks and ideas are for UK culture and creativity. A vote for Brexit would really put the country in the cultural slow lane and will do nothing for the UK’s thriving creative economy.”

Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor, University of the Arts London, said: “EU funding is a significant factor in research, not least because it creates networks across the great universities of Europe. These would, in my view, be more difficult to achieve outside the EU.”

Dave Moutrey, director and chief executive of HOME in Manchester, said: “Leaving the EU would be a big mistake with a huge cost. HOME and many other cultural organisations benefit significantly from EU financial support, while the free movement of ideas, products and creatives is key to making the UK such a creative place to live and work.”


4. Influence on regulations:

Our ability to influence regulations was also of concern with 36% saying this had an impact on their view it is vital that Britain is able to influence regulatory decisions which may have a bearing on future trading, such as the current discussions around the creation of the Digital Single Market.

Tom Weldon, chief executive of Penguin Random House, said: “EU laws help protect intellectual copyright, without which we would not have a creative industry at all. Yes, the EU probably needs to change but it is critical we have a seat at the table to help influence policy.”


5. The value of cultural exchange and diversity:

Many members commented on the value of EU membership for cultural exchange, diversity and the strong partnerships that exist throughout the European cultural and creative sector.

Arts leader Jude Kelly said: “European partnerships, people and ideas have combined with the UK’s creative industries to make us a world leader. I believe in the strength of this unity and want to continue being open, curious and fully involved in Europe's hopes, dreams and challenges.”

Sir Nicholas Hytner, cofounder of London Theatre Company, said: “Creativity knows no borders. Theatre, like all the creative industries, thrives on the free exchange of talent, of ideas, of inspiration and the EU enables this. Why would we want suddenly to impose borders on this free exchange of talent and ideas?”

Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, said:

“Leaving the EU could leave the UK culturally isolated, an issue for all cultural organisations, but especially for those working in opera a fundamentally European artform. It would diminish our burgeoning cultural voice, which should be at the heart of European culture."

Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery, said: "The Photographers' Gallery has a rich history of identifying, showcasing and championing talent from across Europe. We strongly believe that an exit from the EU would affect our ability to support the diversity of photographers and the collaborative work we pride ourselves on."

Linda Merrick, principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, said: “EU students bring distinctive musical and cultural backgrounds to the RNCM, enriching learning for everyone and establishing lifelong musical relationships. Students return to their home countries as powerful advocates for the UK’s cultural and education sectors.”

Joanna Baker, managing director of Edinburgh International Festival, said : “ Founded following the Second World War, the Edinburgh International Festival is an important example of the power of international cultural exchange to unite people – a principle which also lies at the heart of the European Union.”


A joint statement was issued by

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of Barbican

Mark Boleat, chairman of the City of London’s Policy and Resources Committee

Professor Barry Ife, principal of Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Kathryn McDowell CBE, managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra

Sharon Ament, director of the Museum of London:


“As leaders of a creative alliance that aims to maintain and enhance the City of London’s position as an internationally renowned centre for the arts, heritage, learning and entertainment, we are committed to the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, which plays a major role in ensuring the UK’s position as an international cultural powerhouse.”


On publication of the survey on May 20 2016, John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “Our members have sent a clear signal about the importance of EU membership for the continued success of the UK’s fastest growing sector.”

At a meeting with Federation board members and other industry leaders that day in London,




The Creative Industries Federation is the membership body for the UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural education. Founded by designer and UK Business Ambassador Sir John Sorrell with leaders from arts, business and education, it began work in January 2015 and is a united voice for the sector.

In the run up to the EU referendum, the Creative Industries Federation hosted a debate at the British Library.

Speaking for Remain were: Baroness LaneFox, Shadow Culture Secretary Maria Eagle, and Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, London. Speaking for Leave were Luke Johnson, founder of Risk Capital Partners and a former chairman of the Royal Society of Arts and Channel 4, Lady Bridgeman, founder of the Bridgeman Art Library, and Munira Mirza, deputy mayor of London for education and culture.

Responses to the Federation member survey were received from all sectors from within the creative industries (advertising, architecture, crafts, design, creative education, fashion, film, IT and software, museums and galleries, music, performing arts, publishing, radio, TV, video games, video and photography and visual arts). The views were also drawn from across the UK with contributions from all nations and regions.

* A number of Federation members were by statute unable to participate in the poll. These include members in receipt of government funding, those that are arms length governmental bodies (such as Arts Council England or Creative Scotland) or have public service broadcasting obligations.