A few years ago, a left-leaning outlet in my home country started calling me ‘Australian Literature’s Lone Classical Liberal’. As is often the way with these things, I pinched the moniker and now wear it with pride.

However, both then and since, I have often wondered why there are so few right-wing artists of any sort. My curiosity was piqued last week during the launch of Artists for Brexit, an umbrella organisation for creatives who either voted ‘Leave’ or who voted Remain but nonetheless want the best from Brexit for the arts.

Michael Lightfoot – the painter who co-founded Artists for Brexit along with culture vulture Munira Mirza – pointed to a poll the Creative Industries Federation conducted just before the referendum indicating only 4% of its members supported Leave. By any estimation, this figure is extraordinary. Even among Guardian readers, about 10% voted Leave, as did about 20% of FT readers.

Of course one can quibble with the Federation’s figure. Only about 200 people and organisations responded, while CIF is a classic ‘peak body’ and almost certainly not representative of all the artists in Britain. However, even if the percentage of artists who voted Leave is somewhere between that of the Guardian and FT – say, 15% – we have a situation where a significant chunk of Britain’s epistocracy  (the other big chunk is, of course, the universities) is both out of step and out of touch with the Great British Public.

It also suggests many artists don’t trust their own national government to make the same policy choices that the European Union makes in their interest.  Arguably, this is more serious, as it indicates distrust of democracy.

Distrust of democracy and the popular sovereignty it enshrines leads nowhere good for the arts. ‘Grassroots’ art withers on the vine, and everything finishes up funded, top-down, by the state.

I watched this process unfold when I was living in Australia. Artists focussed their attention on niche culture wars issues that meant little to most Australians (the stand-out is an ugly annual rumpus over when to hold Australia Day, but there are plenty of others from which to choose). Arts funders, meanwhile, started ticking diversity boxes and did little else. Sales of literary fiction fell off a cliff, something paralleled, I note, in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, Arts Council England’s response to the sales drop over here was to seek tax relief for small publishers, coupled with more state funding for individual writers.

This is the Australian path. Follow it too far and oblivion beckons. First, the arts evince ever less viewpoint diversity. Then they become a plaything of politics (as has happened to a large degree already in Scotland, thanks to meddling by the SNP). Ultimately, too, there is the risk of destruction with surpassing swiftness if a politically hostile government comes to power. All it has to do is turn the money taps off. Australia’s current conservative government is fond of doing this.

During my last author tour Down Under, local writers often remarked to me that it was ‘good to talk with someone who doesn’t belong to the writing monoculture’. The observation was both maddening and saddening, because there is a writing monoculture, and it’s a shame. There’s an entire cottage industry of people who never talk to anyone outside their political ‘crowd’ as such.

Reliable Australian lefties get invitations to sundry literary festivals, while reliable righties get their books spruiked by conservative and classical liberal think-tanks. Writers of different politics publish with different houses – even in a small market like Australia – and talk to different publics.

There are more left-liberal writers and artists than there are conservative and classical liberal writers and artists. I get that. But only 4% of an entire profession – a profession that is meant to speak with, not at, the people – supporting something that 52% of the public support is downright dangerous. This sort of ongoing inability to hold adult conversations across partisan lines is bad for civil society – never mind just the arts. That, more than anything, is what makes Artists for Brexit so important.

By now, the conversation should have moved far beyond having a strop over the referendum result, both artistically and strategically. We need to start thinking about how the creative sector can source alternative funding streams, build arguments for visa schemes specific to the industry’s needs, and seek to make Brexit an opportunity, not a bust.

Helen Dale is a novelist and lawyer. She read law at Oxford and won the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s equivalent of the Booker Prize, for her first book. Her latest novel, Kingdom of the Wicked, was launched earlier this month at the Adam Smith Institute (reviewed here in Reaction). She is on the steering committee of Artists for Brexit.