02.06.2016Response to Simon Jenkins' article on "the luvvies' Brexit letter" in the Guardian

In dismissing the opinions of those he refers to as “Luvvies”, Simon Jenkins ensures that the debate about Europe continues to be limited to an imprecise and confusing argument about the financial consequences, which no one can be sure about, fragile prophecies about immigration and anecdotal stories of Brussels’ interference in our daily lives including dictating the size of bananas.

Europe is a common market that trades in ideas as well as materials. It is based on the premise that we can profit from each other, not only in fiscal but in social and intellectual terms. For those engaged in the arts and the creative industries Europe is a reality. Our artists, actors, musicians, dancers, designers establish collaborations and dialogue beyond the normal reach of the worlds of finance and politics. The forging of cultural connections and the search for common understanding cannot be brushed aside as the romantic drivel of the so called “Luvvies”. It must be regarded in our increasingly synthetic world as central to a healthy society, spiritually and commercially.

We cannot base this enormous decision on the anecdotal stories of European meddling in our affairs, on the fear of immigration or on foggy economic predictions. We must decide whether our future and the future of our children should be based on building up barriers or breaking them down. Given that we have emasculated our manufacturing base and that we are slowly realising the dangers of leveraging our future on an over reliance on the financial, don't we seriously need to build a society that engages wider ambitions than those measured in conventional terms?

There is one way of handicapping our intellectual and creative talent and it is, by cutting off its oxygen, suffocating it with our little island mentality, isolating ourselves from diverse influences and common interests.

David Chipperfield
Poster by Wolfgang Tillmans