THE UK's creative industries might not seem the most obvious victims of post-Brexit concerns but after speaking to one of North Wales' leading cultural organisations, it's clear that the prospect of no deal is as worrying to them as it is for the region's other core businesses.

A recent poll by the Arts Council England revealed 64 per cent of arts organisations currently work inside the European Union, with 'touring exhibitions' and 'sending UK artists abroad' being the most popular types of activity. Forty per cent need to regularly move equipment and objects between the UK and the EU and a third of organisations employ EU nationals, a figure that rises to more than half in art forms such as dance.

"Our main concern is we don't know how to plan for Brexit or what the impact will even be," says Liam Evans-Ford, executive director at Mold's Theatr Clwyd. "We need to know what the deal is so we know the rules of the game and then most of us are pretty adaptable."

Liam agrees with many industry professionals that it is the likelihood of restricted freedom of movement post-Brexit, which is currently allowed between EU countries, that is the biggest challenge facing the arts.

"In my opinion there will be many, many negative impacts to our work in the arts industry and I have to be honest, I can't see any positives," he says. "There is a lot of worry around freedom of movement. We work with artists from all over the world and Welsh and UK artists who go and learn skills all over the world and that now feels precarious.

"As a theatre in the three years I've been here we've not diverted our gaze internationally as we've concentrated on our work on our doorstep and in the UK theatre scene, but I'm sure this is an area of market growth in the future that may not be open to us."

Many figures in the arts have argued that the closing of the UK's borders will decrease the pool of creative talent available to the UK, with touring companies thinking twice about coming here when faced with increased administrative costs due to the complications that the loss of free movement will create.

"Our seasons have diversified a lot and we get productions from all over the world," agrees Liam. "It's not like many touring companies are big international corporations with lots of admin capacity. At the very least the amount of time staff would be working would increase."

A recent report assessing the European Union's contribution to the arts, museums and creative industries in England found £345m was awarded between 2007-16, equating to £40m each year, with these funds significantly aiding smaller organisations to realise their artistic goals.

"Arts and culture in the UK has benefitted enormously from EU funding," says Liam. "At the moment the cultural community in Europe is saying we would like to still have these partnerships and revenue streams available but who knows? It's likely that five years down the line they will say we can only look after those who are in and we're not going to look after those who are out and we're talking about millions of pounds of public finding."

Some theatre producers are worried about being able to recruit crew members from Europe to work in the UK, and have also voiced concerns about European co-productions, funding and distribution schemes.

"We're lucky that this isn't a huge problem for Theatr Clwyd," says Liam. "But it will be for our partner theatres in more urban environments and cities.

"Specifically I am most worried about our supply chains that will have increased costs and that could be everything from our food suppliers to our capital program. We have a huge development to deliver at Theatr Clwyd, which is absolutely essential to our future.

"The building is almost 44-years-old now and is falling apart around our ears and as a result we are involved in overly-cautious budgeting because of what might happen to the contractors and the amounts we are talking about are huge and will have a direct impact on us."

Last year saw London theatres enjoy their most successful year since records began, as a post-Brexit tourist boom brought overseas visitors flocking to the capital. In regional theatre however, Liam is urging caution, with worries that less money in the average theatre fan's pocket could mean a regular visit to a performance could become a luxury.

"Even if you deeply care for theatre making and having culture in your life for your own wellbeing, if you only have a finite amount of money you're going to think twice," he admits. "We would argue that it is an essential luxury for people and a functioning society but that doesn't mean people can afford to watch five theatre shows a month.

"My reading of things means there is bound to be a negative impact on the economy and I'm sure we will feel that impact through our audiences and what they can spend with us."

As the industry grasps for positives, Liam does suggest that sometimes periods of hardship can provoke great art but this is a small consolation for those struggling in the cultural sector.

"It can't be seen as a positive that the arts flourish in times of difficulty but it can mean all kinds of creative alternatives and discussion points are suggested," he adds. "But if we haven't got the money coming in through companies like ourselves to help those artists, they are not going to come up with creative solutions."

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