HE is one of the most European of Scottish cultural figures, feted on the continent for his decades of work promoting culture from Europe in Scotland.

Now Richard Demarco, appalled by the Brexit vote and its consequences, is to deliver a keynote speech in the European Capital of Culture outlining his vision of how culture can heal divides in the continent.

Demarco, the Festival impresario and gallerist, will be delivering a speech at the finale of San Sebastian's year of as European Capital of Culture for 2016.

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The event in the Spanish city is to focus on the "potential future of the European Union as an innovative, creative and optimistic space."

His invitation says that "2016 has presented the EU with a series of dismal challenges - this event will attempt to cultivate some hope for the future, in particular, how to rethink the role of culture within Europe."

Demarco said: "I bet all these politicians, Brexit means Brexit and all that, have never been deeply moved by a work of art."

The event is part of European Dialogues, a series of events that "promotes collective reflection and debate on the European reality", with past speakers including Jose Manuel Barroso, the former European Commission President and Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO.

Demarco said that he would be telling the audience in San Sebastian that culture and art are one of the few things that can bring countries together.

Speaking as he guided The Herald around the exhibition of art charting his key collaboration with seminal German artist Joseph Beuys at Edinburgh College, Granton.

He said it was particularly poignant that after the Brexit vote, he would be speaking in San Sebastian.

"They'll never be a UK city again with that title of European Capital of Culture, and by God, why was that never mentioned by these funny little politicians? The thing that binds Europe together is not the Euro, it is culture," he said.

"And remember what Jean Monnet [1888-1979], one of the founders of the whole idea of the European Union said: that the foundation of European is not united by coal and steel, that's a nonsense, it could only be brought together through culture.

"But we don't believe that now, because culture is on the back burner."

Demarco said he will highlight how, in his view, art can help transform societym but "right now, we're thinking art is simply a diversion and not real."

"Instead of saying that the one language we have got to save us is not the language of the 'knees-up' world, it's the language that we dare not forget, because without it we cannot do anything about the state of the world," he said.

"I don't think withAleppo or the Jungle in Calais, are giving us any idea that we are any different from the world that produced the Holocaust.

"Funnily enough, this Brexit has come at exactly the moment that it never should have happened, because the public do not realise, the masses do not realise, that their leaders are speaking the wrong language -t heir leaders believe that the only thing that is going to help us is the language of the banker and the politician and the media, but it is not."

On the effect of Brexit on the Edinburgh festivals, he said that the impact would be profound.

He said: "The impact will be horrific. We have not yet realised what the impact will be.

"It will not face it."

Demarco has been honoured many times in Europe for his contributions to European culture and fostering the links between Scotland and the continent: he has received medals from Germany and Poland and has a series of honorary doctorates.

He received the European Citizen's Medal in a ceremony held at the European Parliament in 2013.