IT’S beginning to feel stuffy and constricted in here. The two leading African acts (from Mali and Senegal) who have pulled out of this year’s Celtic Connections music festival, due to the “hassle and stress” of trying to secure permission to enter the UK, are only the latest in a recent and disheartening wave.

This August’s Edinburgh International Book Festival – a global republic of letters, if ever there was one – had 12 authors with visas refused, from predominantly African and Middle Eastern countries.

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And in the same festival period, with some African acts also unable to attend Peter Gabriel’s Womad event, the veteran prog-rocker asked: “Do we really want a white-breaded Brexited flatland? A country that is losing the will to welcome the world?”

Eloquently put. Indeed, the UK Government’s “hostile environment” immigration stance particularly unravels the glory of an event like Celtic Connections.

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CC’s intent has always been clear. They take a set of cultural and musical traditions anchored largely in these islands, and use them as a catalyst for creative “connections” from all over the world.

It’s messy, overlapping and glorious. Celtic Connections (and, for that matter, the EIBF) have been “Scotland in the world” (or “Global Scotland”, if you like) for decades. They have organically evolved in ways that put government departments, sharing the same brief, to shame.

We all know the jobs and economic hit that Brexit will bring to Scotland, and beyond. And I’m in no way elevating the mobility or freedom of creatives over any working community that will take a thumping from leaving the EU.

But there is something particularly destructive about Brexit narrowing Scots’ access to the artistic diversity of the wider world. The case that the Scottish independence movement has consistently made is about our openness and hybridity, not our purism and defensiveness.

We hold to a “cosmopolitan nationalism”, as some German academics recently described their own country’s mainstream identity.

Eclectically programmed events are one obvious way to tell the world this story. But it looks thuddingly clear that the hustle of Scottish cultural entrepreneurship will hit its limits if their relationship with a world of artists has to deal with the thornbushes of Brexit procedure.

The barriers to non-EU artists are maddening enough. But the impending cut-off from the flow of culture and commerce across an integrated Europe seems more like sheer vandalism.

The prospect is that aspiring rock bands or theatre companies will have to secure (and pay for) a series of national visas for their European tours, along with “carnets” which register their equipment down to the last spanner and Maglite. This is literally a return to the early 70s.

It also does complete violence to the freelance and networked existence of many creatives and performers. Imagine the rising Glasgow DJ, building her international audiences by posting her mixes on Soundcloud. She gets a career-breaking call to do a set in Berlin, or Bilbao, or Budapest – but it’s in a week’s time. Under current rules, she just books the plane and makes the gig (it’s a single market, after all).

None of that fluidity and ease of work is remotely on offer in the current Brexit plans, all of which imply extra expense, and the completion of multi-page forms, all awaiting approval from the Home Office. Various industry bodies are urging the UK Government to include a two-year “creative visa” in their negotiations, so that this river of activity doesn’t just instantly dry up. But it requires European “reciprocation”, as the pressure group FreeMoveCreate puts it. Let’s see how that goes.

Reliably, and admirably, Nicola Sturgeon has spoken out against the Book Festival’s visa exclusions (“get it sorted out, UK Government”, she wrote in a tweet). Her public schedule is notable for its literary and cultural patronage, never mind the “cosmopolitan nationalism” expressed in recent European visits. Equally regular are the FM’s call-outs to invite the world to visit and work in Scotland, no matter the eventual Brexit settlement.

So we are lucky with our leadership in Scotland. But there is a gap at the heart of all this progressive tone-setting. If we took the evident worldliness of the Scottish creative community as representing the sentiments of the 62% majority for Remain in Scotland, we would no doubt be forcing indy much more strongly than we currently are.

But as subsequent polling, and then the snap UK General Election in 2017 told us, the “European” dimension of Scottish identity is not as strong as the bien pensant among us might hope.

As consumers of entertainment, Scottish citizens might love the fact that the cosmopolis comes to its doorstep (and its venues). But that doesn’t seem to trigger enough of an equal political appetite to “stop the world and get on”, in Winnie Ewing’s classic phrase.

What explains this? The cultural sector shows quite concretely what it would mean for Scotland to stay continuous with the “flow” of Europe. Creatives thrive on the “four freedoms” so regularly declared by Eurocrats – that is, the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

Does the rest of Scotland? The academic, entrepreneurial and financial sectors certainly do. And practically, Scotland’s declining population requires an immigration policy that can keep our health and care sectors well staffed.

If we raise all economic boats, will that maintain calm and tolerance in Scotland? Economic robustness is important – though the prospects of automation and zero-carbon makes this hardly a simple task of “unleashing growth” in Scotland. We will have to painstakingly assemble the model for this, as confusedly as most other societies and governances.

But we may already have a working model for progress in our cultural sector.

Is Scotland something of an oasis of calm amidst the current turbulence of nations, because the populace draws so much meaning and satisfaction from its rich cultural resources? We know who we are – and “who we are” is complex, hybrid and thoroughly “mongrel” (to quote the late, great William McIlvanney)?

Mibbes aye, mibbes naw. We would make a huge mistake if we thought there was no potential for a “left-behind” Scotland to emerge. One that could as easily lose patience with the sparkling cosmocrats that “represent” our country, whether in politics, arts or business. There are already elements of the indy movement who grumble about the posturing of “luvvies” on issues of cultural taste or sexual identity.

I would like to think that Scottish routes are as important as Scottish roots: there’s enough of us cast around the planet for that to be a felt, familial reality.

Let’s keep inviting the world to our doorstep, and let’s loudly complain when the weird regressions of Brexit restrain that embrace. The angry, embittered alternative to that is all around us.