The cloud of Brexit looms over the UK, impacting everyone from politicians to farmers. In the wake of Brexit, the art community is dealing with the consequences of potentially closed borders. In an attempt to move their art into countries in the European Union before the potential “No Deal” scheduled for March 29, artists scramble to get their art across the country lines.
The potential for a “No Deal” would mean that the UK would leave the EU without any set plan or transitional period. The result would be an immediate change in trade and strict boarder customs. The British art market is the third largest in the world and relies on seamless shipping within the EU, but the possiblity of Brexit’s “No Deal” will cause many galleries to lose their ability to freely exchange art across borders. Many curators and dealers, in both the UK and the EU, are “stocking up” by importing pieces that will not be displayed for weeks or even months.
Uncertainty over EU museums’ export and distribution licenses only worsen Brexit’s impact on the art community. The fear of further costs, prolonged routing, additional wait time, and harsh customs checks, are only a few of the formalities placed on art crossing the EU-UK border after March 29.
An exhibition of fine art from Italy showing at Tornabuoni Art gallery in London is due to close on 30 March, the day after Brexit. Missing the mark by 24-hours, Tornabuoni will face hefty tariffs when it tries to return the art to its collection in Italy. Tornabuoni has galleries in six different locations in Britain, France, and Italy. Ursula Casamonti, director of Tornabuoni Art’s British branch, said, “It will be a long process, but if it’s really complicated and a hard situation with imports, I will close the London gallery.” Despite the fact that the different locations belong to the same dealership, they would still be subject to the same amount of checks as any separate work crossing over the border.
Tomorrow marks the day when everything comes to fruition. The art community, and the world, wait for the finalization of Brexit in nervous anticipation. The potential damage that it could do to the galleries, dealers, and artists will cause immediate wounds and future losses for everyone connected to Europe’s art trade. The end result could be fatal and catastophic.