events archive

The Arts and the Public

7:00pm, Monday 8 May 2017, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA

A Creative Industries Federation survey suggested that 96 per cent of creatives favoured remaining in the EU. However, now that Article 50 has been triggered and we commence shaping post-Brexit Britain, is the mood changing? Many cultural figures continue to ask whether Brexit spells disaster for the UK’s cosmopolitan art scene; others are open to the possibility that Brexit might encourage the arts to connect to the public in a new way. For instance, Grayson Perry sees ‘fantastic’ opportunities to challenge the ‘same old comfortable ideas’ and, in doing so, ‘reach new audiences’. Some posit that an internationalist and enlightened Creative Class is an important antidote to nativist and populist trends. In contrast, David Goodhart argues in his new book that the new cultural divide is between Somewheres and Nowheres. Perhaps the arts might now explore the rootedness of Somewheres, to shine a light on new sensibilities?

The second in this series of public debates, co-produced by Invoke Democracy Now!, New Narratives and the IoI Arts & Society Forum and hosted by Rich Mix, continues to explore the fundamental issues affecting the future of the arts. Following a lively and packed first event, it asks: Is there role for the arts in Brexit processes and in public debate about them? Do those working in the arts have responsibilities towards the public: to heal rifts, to represent and/or shape public identity/ies, to be iconoclasts? Or should artists distance themselves from public opinion, populism and politics and just concentrate on developing works of artistic merit?


Miriam Ella
visual artist and writer

Vikki Heywood CBE
chair, RSA

Angus Kennedy
convenor, The Academy; author, Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination

Avaes Mohammad
project manager at think-tank British Future; writer and poet who has written widely for performance and print.

Claire Fox
director, Academy of Ideas; panelist, BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze