events archive

Democracy and the arts in Europe: artists in a global world

7:00pm, Tuesday 28 March 2017, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA

The Arts and Society Forum is working with Invoke Democracy Now and New Narratives to organise a series of discussions on Democracy and the Arts in Europe.


How should we, as artists and creatives, respond to a new relationship to Europe and the world after Brexit?

While a Creative Industries Federation survey suggested that 96% of creatives favoured remaining in the EU and journalists continue to ask whether Brexit spells disaster for the UK’s ‘cultural eminence’ and London’s cosmopolitan art scene, others are more open to exploring the future and starting to offer a more positive take.  Not least, Grayson Perry sees ‘fantastic’ opportunities to challenge the ‘same old comfortable ideas’ and in doing so ‘reach new audiences’.

Can Brexit – the largest democratic mandate in UK history – become a springboard to transformation of the arts and cultural sectors? Can the act of shaking off EU regulations help create a new critical climate of opinion? If so, what should be our ambitions in reshaping discourse and practice?

As Article 50 is triggered and we commence shaping post-Brexit Britain, a series of three public debates explores the fundamental issues most directly affecting the future of the arts in the UK and Europe, and whether Brexit can be used to our advantage.


The first debate in the series looks at whether borders matter. Should artists have unrestricted freedom of movement? Are artists a special case or should all of us, regardless of profession, be entitled to live and work in the country of our choice? Could Theresa May’s new ‘global Britain’ offer greater opportunities for the arts than an EU-bound Britain? What is the relationship between the local and global? What about cosmopolitanism? How might the creative and cultural sectors engage regional and national identities and traditions?


Munira Mirza
an adviser on arts and philanthropy who has written extensively about cultural and social policy in the UK. She was deputy mayor for education and culture at the Greater London Authority. She has worked for cultural and charitable organisations including the Royal Society of Arts, Policy Exchange and Tate. Munira is a Royal Opera House board member and a founding supporter of Change Britain.

Mark Ball
the outgoing Artistic Director/CEO of London International Festival of Theatre (2009 – 2017). He will become the Associate Artistic Director at Manchester International Festival, focusing on the creation and delivery of the artistic programme for Factory, Manchester’s flagship new space for large-scale performance and art works.

Manick Govinda
head of artists’ advisory services and a producer at Artsadmin, vice-chair of a-n, the artists information company, and convener of the Manifesto Club’s Visiting Artists Campaign. He writes extensively on freedom of movement and free expression matters in the arts. He speaks in a personal capacity.

Eca Eps (aka Sarah Peace)
Nigerian-born writer and artist whose work centres on human rights and conflict, freedom of thought, conscience and expression. Her practice extends across film, photography, intervention, installation and performance. She has exhibited in London, in her second home, Lagos, and internationally. Her work was profiled in Phaidon’s 2015 publication, Creative Dissent in the 21st Century.

Jo Glanville
director of English PEN, a charity that defends freedom of expression and promotes literature. She was an award-winning editor of Index on Censorship and is a former BBC current affairs producer. She has written for a number of publications including the Guardian and the London Review of Books


Alastair Donald
associate director, Academy of Ideas. He’s co-founder of think tank New Narratives - a group of designers and artists exploring how to respond to a Post-Brexit world, convenor of the Future Cities Salon, and co-editor of The Lure of the City: from slums to suburbs (2011).