An open letter from Peirene Press presenting the “cultural case” for staying in the EU has garnered more than 160 signatures including those of authors Sarah Waters and Marina Warner, Granta editor Max Porter, Katharina Bielenberg, associate publisher at MacLehose, and Adam Freudenheim, publisher of Pushkin Press.
Fiammetta Rocco, books editor at the Economist and administrator of the Man Booker International Prize, has also signed the letter as has Lisa Appignanesi, newly elected chair of the Royal Society of Literature.
Written by Meike Ziervogel, the German-born publisher of independent Peirene, the letter states that the debate about whether or not the UK should leave the European Union - refered to as Brexit - “often neglects the arguments from culture”.
It argues that “an isolationist step away from our European neighbours is a step away from our own cultural heritage [and] is a step towards a more insular, short-sighted position antithetical to the open interchange of ideas and support that has defined Europeon culture.”
The letter maintains that cultural exchange facilitated by the freedom of movement between EU countries has been a “crucial part of maintaining a vibrant national culture” and that a Brexit would mean “jeopardising cross-cultural institutional relationships dependent on the ease of movement of people and goods, as well as EU funding initiatives” which would be an “existential threat to our island’s identity as an active, outward-looking cultural leader.”
According to the letter, one EU funding initative, Creative Europe, has supported 228 UK cultural and creative organisations in the past two years with grants totalling €40m (£31.6m). The letter also cites the Erasmus programme, which with EU funding has "allowed thousands of British students, both within the arts and out, to study abroad, broadening horizons and benefiting career prospects".
The letter, which is to be sent to the press, can be signed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this year, fellow German-born illustrator Axel Schefler said in a blog post for Nosy Crow that the popular work The Gruffalo (Macmillan Children's Books) would never have been created.
A survey of people in the trade conducted by The Bookseller in February before the referendum date was confirmed showed that 70.6% were against leaving the EU, with 27.1% planning to vote in favour of leaving and 2.1% undecided. At the time trade figures such as Waterstones m.d. James Daunt, Bonnier Publishing c.e.o. Richard Johnson and Alma Books m.d. Alessandro Gallenzi said leaving the EU would be a disaster for the book trade and for the country.
Last month, three Brexit-related titles charted in the top 5,000 bestselling books after rival campaigns kicked off, with Daniel Hannan’s Why Vote Leave (Head of Zeus), David Charter’s Europe: In or Out? Everything You Need to Know (Biteback) and David Torrence’s EU Referendum: A Guide for Voters (Luath Press) rocketing up the chart.
The referendum will take place on 23rd June.