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Democracy and the Arts in Europe: The Arts and The Public

Monday 8 May
From £5.00
to £7.00
All orders will be subject to a fee of £1.50 except if your tickets are free or if you are a member

In a nutshell

A panel discussion to explore the role of the arts in public debate about the future of Britain in Europe. 

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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 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?

What to Expect

Each event creates a wide-ranging discussion/debate, introduced by a panel of invited speakers from a variety of organisations, with plenty of time for questions, commentary and debate from the audience.

There will be a short film screening at the end of the evening:

Argybargy (2017) by Jeremy Hutchison is a performance featuring two UK citizens who participated in the Brexit referendum. One voted Leave the other voted Remain. They are given some black paint and a paintbrush. They are invited to write a slogan on the wall of an art gallery. They can write whatever they like, but they have to work together: hold the brush together, dip it together, paint together. Each performer has to make sure it supports their personal position on Brexit. Jeremy Hutchison is an artist based in London. He works with situational performance rehearsing ways to disrupt the tyranny of common sense. He has recently exhibited at the ICA, V&A, Modern Art Oxford and the EVA Biennial, and has just returned from a residency at Raw Material Company in Dakar. 

Who's Involved


Avaes Mohammad is project manager at think-tank British Future and a writer and poet who has written widely for performance and print.  His poetry is influenced by the Sufi Saints of South Asia as much as the Dub-Poets of Jamaica, his essays have explored themes of integration and culture and many of his plays depict the fallout of a post-9/11 world.

Vikki Heywood CBE is Chairman of the RSA. She has a background in the theatre, having been Executive Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and, previously, Joint Chief Executive of the Royal Court Theatre. She has played influential roles in several cultural organisations including Society of London Theatre and the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Angus Kennedy is convener of the Institute of Ideas’ educational initiative The Academy which he established in 2011, and the author of Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination (2014). He is interested in and writes on the philosophy of freedom. He works in information technology management consultancy.

Miriam Elia is a visual artist and Sony nominated surreal comedy writer who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006. Her work includes illustrated books such as ‘We go to the gallery’ and ‘We learn at home’, as well as prints, drawings, short films, radio comedy and animations.

Claire Fox (Chair) is the director of the Institute of Ideas, which convenes the annual Battle of Ideas festival and runs the Debating Matters Competition for schools and the Academy summer school. She is a panelist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, and author of ‘I Find That Offensive!’ (2016).

INVOKE DEMOCRACY NOW is a non-partisan campaign group set up to promote and defend our democratic rights and freedoms.  We believe that the referendum on our membership of the European Union was a unique and significant opportunity to engage in democracy and that the result must thus be upheld.

In association with:

Institute of Ideas Arts and Society Forum aims to encourage open discussion of issues and controversies relating to the state of the arts today, aligned with the Institute of Ideas' mission to expand the boundaries of public debate.

New Narratives is a group of architects, designers, planners, artists, creatives who view our post-Brexit world as a once in a lifetime opportunity to rethink every aspect of what we do; as a springboard to action and as a transformation of our existing tired creative and cultural sectors.

Find out more

Web: / 

Things you should know

Suitable for ages 16+

This event is wheelchair accessible.