UK cultural figures sign letter demanding ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit The letter, which was published today in the Times and features 161 signatories, urges the leadership of both main political parties to support a People’s Vote on whether to leave the EU.

It follows the historic rejection of prime minister Theresa May’s EU withdrawal plan earlier this week. It was rejected by 230 votes – the largest ever defeat for a sitting UK government. She is due to publish a revised Brexit plan next week, with a full debate and key vote scheduled for 29 January.

Among the cultural figures to sign the letter are Gary Waterston, the managing director of Gagosian Gallery, Natasha Plowright, the director of communications at the Photographers’ Gallery, the architect David Chipperfield, and Matthew Slotover, the co-director of Frieze Art Fair and the founder of Frieze magazine.

The letter states: “The priority now is to stop us crashing out of the EU with no deal at all. The only feasible way to do this is by asking the people whether they still want to leave the EU. With the clock now ticking rapidly before we are due to quit, politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies. We urge the political leadership of both the main parties to support a People’s Vote.”

A number of artists have also spoken out following May’s defeat. As the Art Newspaper reports, the British sculptor Anish Kapoor, who was born in Mumbai, said Brexit is an attempt “to resurrect Britain’s colonial past. Brexit seems to have brought out the very worst in us – Britain is more intolerant, more xenophobic, more insular than I have known it to be since the 1970s.”

The Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger has said that he would like a second referendum, but that the negotiation process “has been entirely opaque – it was always going to be “the computer says ‘no’”. In retrospect, it was a perfectly engineered catastrophe! But, in fact, it’s more the idiotic consequences of the wish to cling to power, which is everything that’s wrong about the current state of the Tory party and our tribal politics.”

Arts Council of Northern Ireland draft five-year framework proposes re-introduction of multi-year funding According to the funder’s proposed strategy for the period 2019-2024, it is considering reinstating multi-year funding awards for arts organisations. This follows a previous consultation with key stakeholders which found that “organisations and artists express concerns about funding, in terms of the reduction and the lack of security, especially the loss of multi-annual awards”.

There were also calls “to communicate more regularly with artists and organisations”, such as providing stronger feedback to artists who had made unsuccessful grant applications.

In addition to the multi-year funding proposal, the council is also planning to create a consultative assembly of arts professionals, with the aim of involving artists in areas such as quality assessment and reviewing grant processes. The council say this will act as “a touchstone for sectoral opinion”.

There will also be a review of artform classifications, with the council saying: “It is no longer appropriate to define the sector in terms of single artform priorities. The sector itself is exploring new ways of working, converging platforms and presenting work through digital media. This calls for a new approach to planning for arts and creativity.”

The strategic framework has been put out for consultation with Northern Ireland’s arts sector, with the deadline for public consultation closing on 22 March 2019. Publication of the completed strategy is scheduled for April 2019.

Government pledges £20m culture fund to boost arts and heritage sector following local authority cuts Five English regions are to share the new government fund, which is designed to create jobs and provide economic benefits through increasing access to the arts, heritage and creative industries.

Towns and cities were invited to bid for up to £7m for specific projects, with the successful applicants being Grimsby, Wakefield, Plymouth, Worcester and the Thames Estuary area of Kent.

As the Guardian reports, Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, said: “This is an incredible opportunity that will not only help people build careers in the arts and culture locally but also boost wider investment and diversify the creative economy.”

Wakefield will receive the largest amount, with more than £4.4m facilitating a project that aims to turn the city “into an internationally renowned location promoting our world-class creative industries.” Grimsby will get slightly less, with £3.2m of funding helping to revive its town centre. Meanwhile, Plymouth’s £3.5m will help develop immersive and digital technologies and the Mayflower 400th anniversary programme.

£3m will go towards regenerating Worcester’s railway arches and a festivals programme, while Kent Thames Estuary will receive £4.3m “to help develop a globally significant creative production corridor”.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the funding is expected to create around 1,300 jobs and benefit 2,000 people through skills training, with its impact also supporting more than 700 businesses. Match funding from other sources of £17.5m will also be invested.

Museum group calls for release of detained Turkish arts patron and philanthropist Osman Kavala The International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) has published a statement calling for Kavala, who is the chair of the cultural non-profit Anadolu Kültür (Anatolian Culture), to be released from the Turkish prison where he has been detained for over a year without being charged.

In November 2017, counterterrorist police at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul arrested Kavela, who was returning from Gaziantep in Turkey’s Anatolia region, where he had been discussing a project at the Goethe-Institut.

The museum group has also criticised the detainment of a group of 13 Turkish academics and cultural workers in November 2018. The arrest involved several board members and advisers of Anadolu Kültür, including Asena Günal, Yiğit Ekmekçi, Hakan Altınay, Meltem Aslan, and Çiğdem Mater.

The statement reads: “CIMAM, the international association of contemporary art museums, is deeply concerned by these events which it considers to be in violation of Turkey’s commitments to human rights and the fundamental freedoms of transparent debate and the exchange of ideas within society.

“CIMAM believes this situation represents systematic harassment of leading cultural professionals and we wish to express our solidarity with our colleagues in Turkey.”

1. People’s Vote March, London, 23 June 2018. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons; CC-BY-SA-4.0

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