LOOKING AHEAD: Matt Hancock, the U.K.’s culture minister, issued a statement highlighting the importance of finding ways to help the country’s design sectors continue to flourish after Brexit.

Hancock, who is responsible for digital and cultural policy, added that he plans to work closely with the industry as the government begins to conduct Brexit negotiations.

“The U.K.’s architecture and design are vitally important to our future as an outward-looking nation. It is a dynamic sector that significantly enhances our economy and global reputation,” he added.

Hancock’s comments follow the presentation of the Brexit Design Manifesto earlier this month, an initiative created in response to the Brexit vote, by architectural and design magazine Dezeen. The aim of the initiative, spearheaded by Dezeen’s editor in chief Marcus Fairs, is to develop a close relationship between industry representatives and the ministry and to highlight the sector’s ever-growing contribution to the economy.

Among the manifesto’s key aims is to establish an ongoing dialogue with government officials and discuss key topics, which are likely to be affected by the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. These include the importance of world-class education and the need to access international intellectual property regimes.

More than 339 designers and architects have signed the manifesto, including fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic, architects Amanda Levete and Sadie Morgan and Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic.

The manifesto also aims to tackle broader topics such as the perceptions of design professions as elitist and the ways design institutions can reach out to schools and the government.

Fashion designers including Christopher Raeburn, Sibling’s Cozette McCreery and Patrick Grant of E. Tautz have openly expressed their discontent after the Brexit vote and the newly weak pound, which has been losing ground against the dollar and the euro. The designers highlighted concerns over the potential of higher taxes imposed on companies that trade abroad and the pressure it would put on margins.

Grant also pointed to a long-term threat of loosing access to skilled staff.

“Leaving the EU and — lack of — movement of skilled people could be very harmful indeed. The greatest long-term threat to U.K. manufacturing is the skills shortage,” Grant said. “It needs the most skilled staff to do the teaching. If we lose access to the best technicians because the U.K. shuts its border, then I truly believe we will see a reverse of the current upward cycle in U.K. manufacturing.”

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