V&A Director Predicts London’s Art Scene Will Move to Berlin if Britain Votes for ‘Brexit’

He described what would happen to London as a 'disaster.'

V&A Director Martin Roth warned against 'Brexit.' Photo: ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images

Martin Roth, the German director of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, has predicted that London’s vibrant art scene will relocate to Berlin if Britain decides to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23.

Speaking to the German art magazine Monopol, the 61-year-old noted that the creative economy clustered in and around London would most likely seek a new base. “I would imagine that Berlin will gain significant importance if London loses influence,” he explained.

“Our 4 million visitors at the V&A come in no small part from the European continent,” he added. “Will this audience continue to loyally travel to London? What will become of the world famous creative industry?”

The Elytra Filament Pavilion at the Victoria and Albert Museum. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The V&A is one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Roth didn’t mince his words on the subject and warned, “The separation will take a long time before the divorce has taken effect. And it will be expensive, especially for the British people.”

Referring to the possibility of the UK leaving the European Union as a “disaster,” Roth added, “art and culture are generally speaking tolerant and cosmopolitan. The magnitude of the disaster will only become clear in the future. The European subsidies devoted to research alone will be greatly missed.”

However, Roth maintained that “The island will not drift away to the USA or to Australia. England is and remains a central component of European history and culture—whatever will happen.”

The German national explained that there exists a stark difference in perception of what Europe means to the British as opposed to continental Europeans. “When I speak of Europe, I refer to music, philosophy, art and science, sports and language. When my English friends say Europe, they mean trade, economics, and sometimes defense.”

Prime Minister David Cameron and former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell campaigning to stay in the EU at Abbey Road studios. Photo: Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister David Cameron and former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell campaigning to stay in the EU at Abbey Road studios. Photo: Jeremy Selwyn – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Expanding on the dilemma facing the British public, the director of the prestigious museum went on to explain that “They want to distance themselves from a divided Europe, the crises, the nationalists, the extreme right. At the same time they yearn for internationality and see the future in trade with the whole world, to go back to the good times of the Commonwealth.”

Fellow museum director Gabriele Finaldi of London’s National Gallery also went on record to support remaining in the European Union.

Broadly speaking, the British arts community is largely against leaving the European Union. Last week 288 artists and other cultural luminaries signed a petition supporting the StrongerIn campaign to remain in the EU.


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