Celtic Connections cuts overseas acts by a fifth after pound slump

Celtic Connections has been forced to dramatically scale back the number of overseas acts in its line-up in the wake of the Brexit vote, organisers have revealed.

The 2018 Celtic Connections programme was launched in Glasgow today.

The number of American and European artists in the programme has been cut by around 20 per cent due to the impact of the weak pound on the festival’s buying power.

Festival director Donald Shaw said the cost of a high-profile act with their own band had leapt up by almost a third in the space of 12 months

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Mr Shaw said: “We’ve really suffered with the demise of sterling against the euro and dollar.

“We’ve had time to juggle how we do that. We have reduced the number of American and European artists in the programme by around 20 per cent.

“If we were to consider bringing in a high-profile American artists with a band. We might have been able to afford that based on the box office return but the drop in value of sterling against the dollar has pushed it over the edge in terms of what we can afford.

“We would definitely engaged with more big European artists, particularly from the Celtic regions, but we can’t really afford to now. These are as a result of Brexit, that’s the reality.

“But a bigger concern coming down the line is about the free movement of musicians and multi-European funded applications.

“I’m certainly aware of conversations with European arts organisations who are keen to get involved with projects where they have said: ‘Can we try to get this done now because after Brexit we won’t be able to put funds into this if there are Scottish artists involved?’

“That to me is one of the first nails in the coffin. These are the kind of things that haven’t really been thought out.

“We know how hard it already is in the UK to bring in international artists. The immigration process is already hard to fathom.”