Preparing for Brexit (Part Two). How artists and arts organisations can consider its impact and plan ahead.

Andrew Hetherington - Brexit

By Andrew Hetherington, Chief Executive, Business to Arts

This is the second article in our ‘Preparing for Brexit’ series and is a follow up to the article by John Ward (of the Global Freight Group, Maurice Ward).

Increasingly, the team at Business to Arts are being asked more focused questions about the impact of Brexit on the arts sector. These questions started to develop out of our annual Arts, Festival and Music Sponsorship Report. This report identified a softening of sentiment toward sponsorship/marketing spend (in 2016 & 2017) as a result of market volatility created by Brexit. In early May 2018, we also co-hosted a panel discussion with English National Ballet at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre during Dublin Dance Festival where Brexit was the focal point. In this article, I’ve brought together a range of resources and opinions (including our own) that might be helpful for artists and arts organisations.

To start with, here are some things we know about Brexit’s impact on Ireland:

Foreign exchange volatility. Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU in June 2016, we’ve seen a volatile performance of sterling. The general trend has been a weakening of sterling versus the euro. Currently at €1 to £0.88p (as of 23 May 2018)

Competitiveness of British arts/cultural product. In Sept 2017, Failte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly outlined the agencies position on the impact of Brexit, namely “volatility generated by Brexit during the last year would have led to significant revenue and job losses had other traditional markets, particularly the US, not performed so well.” He warned the Irish tourism sector and its stakeholders, “We cannot always assume that other markets will continue to compensate in this fashion – particularly as we now face a challenge in those markets from a British tourism product made much more competitive by the lower sterling value.”

Reduction in numbers of UK-based visitors to Ireland. In January 2018, Dublin Airport reported that, “Traffic between Dublin and British airports increased by 1% to just under 10 million last year [2017]… The impact of weaker sterling following the Brexit vote in the UK contributed to a decline in British originating traffic last year, but this was more than offset by an increase in both Irish outbound business and transfer traffic to the UK.”

Focus on Retention of Common Travel Area. In an interview with The Irish Times, John Hickey of The Irish Film Board emphasised that audio-visual productions in Ireland are often located on both sides of the Border, as well as in Britain and Ireland. His warning was that, “Any tightening of the Common Travel Area between the Republic, the North and Britain would be harmful to the audio-visual industry”

Below are examples of some of the questions we are being asked in relation to Brexit:

Typical question: I don’t know if Brexit will impact me/my organisation? In what scenarios is it more likely that Brexit will impact me/my organisation?

In our opinion, Irish artists and arts organisations that are more likely to feel the impact of Brexit are those that have significant UK activities. For example, those that:

  • are programmed into UK venues and festivals and as a result travel to the UK regularly (e.g . for performances / exhibitions etc)
  • export artworks to and/or from the UK (e.g. prints, original works of art etc)
  • have a portion of their audience that travel to Ireland from the UK
  • have significant relationships with suppliers based in the UK (e.g. designers, manufacturers etc)
  • are UK-based Irish artists who return to Ireland regularly to perform/sell/exhibit etc

Typical question: I know Brexit will impact me/my organisation. What should I do?

Firstly, don’t panic! The exact impact of Brexit on artists and arts organisations is yet to be seen. It is highly likely much of the finer detail will remain unknown until last-minute agreements are made between the UK and the EU… and for years afterwards as these decisions are implemented.

If you want to plan as best as you can, why not start with some of the following:

  • Start a Risk Assessment that is appropriate to the size and complexity of your UK activities (travel, sales, audiences etc). You can start by analysing the amount of:

(a) Goods and services you / your organisation procures from UK-based people / organisations. Try to calculate the average value of this over the last three years.

(b) Travel you undertake between the UK and Ireland. Take particular care to identify costs of hotels in GB£ and stipends/per diems you may have for people that work for you in GB£

(c) Audiences based in the UK that travel to Ireland to see your work. Understand their value to your organisation. Know how you segment this audience profile, communicate with them and sell your organisation to them. This is particularly relevant to some of Ireland’s larger music and arts festivals and venues. This audience profile could be at risk… particularly if sterling continues to weaken.

By doing the above, you start to build a better picture of the exposure your organisation might have to Brexit. You can then rank the financial exposure(s) you/your organisation has as either low/medium or high risk.

  • Talk with UK-based partners, co-producers, commissioners, peers or customers/audiences. Ask them how they are planning for Brexit or the impact they believe it will have on them. I’ve always believed in the importance of sharing knowledge among arts/cultural professionals and the value of this tradition in terms of business planning/strategy.
  • Talk to your accountant and other professional advisors. It is highly likely they have started to think about the implications of Brexit for other clients.

Typical Question: What implications does Business to Arts expect? Are there any opportunities?

  • Additional human resources and/or time required for dealing with customs/excise. As the UK will exist outside of the EU, it is certain that some forms of customs and trade registrations will be required. For example, if you travel or export your artistic goods or services to the US, you will be aware of some of the red-tape that is involved. You can begin to consider which declarations, registrations, authorisations and reliefs are required OR will need to be put in place.
  • Revenue Commissioners Responsibilities, Cashflow and Binding Tariff Information Considerations To understand more about this, read part one of this series by John Ward, CEO of Maurice Ward and Co Ltd.

Among some of the potential opportunities identified (among our network) include:

  • Potential for increased EU Funding. Ireland will become the only English speaking country in the EU as a result of Brexit and has the potential to become a more attractive EU funding partner as a result. This may be more relevant if you have UK-based comparators/competitors that already avail of EU funding. Keep an eye on the work of:

(a) The EU Lab at Dublin’s Culture Connects

(b) Creative Europe Desk Ireland at the Arts Council of Ireland

  • Focus on growing Irish Tourism Markets We expect the US and German markets to remain a focus of Tourism Ireland with some additional investment in new opportunities from Asia and the Middle East. The global popularity of Star Wars film locations in Ireland is expected to continue too.

Typical Question: What other resources are out there for me?

  • Failte Ireland’s ‘Get Brexit Ready Fáilte Ireland has developed a suite of supports to assist businesses through Brexit volatility. They include, Training programmes, Market diversification tactics, Competitiveness resources, GB & NI tourism statistics, Research and insights, and a Calendar of Support.
  • Brexit Advisory Services for Business from your auditors, banks and other professional advisors. Particularly those for Small to Medium Enterprises. Some examples include:


Bank of Ireland





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