IT is one of the strengths of Celtic Connections, the perennially popular music festival which is held in Glasgow’s often dreich January every year, that it looks outward, perhaps even more than it looks inward. You are as likely to see an African artist, a Reggae star or a blues singer from America as you are a Scottish fiddler or Gaelic singer at one of Scotland’s most popular festivals.

Its eclectic spirit is one of the festival’s strong points, and a core part of its enduring appeal.

So Donald Shaw, the creative producer of the festival, and of course an accomplished musician himself, could be forgiven for looking at the present state of the UK’s engagement with the wider world with a somewhat depressed eye.

We spoke this week on the day that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, lost her ‘meaningful vote’ on her Brexit deal. And it seems likely that by the end of Celtic Connections, on 3 February, the country may still be no nearer to coming to any sensible conclusion to the Brexit debacle. Where Scotland, whose musical and storytelling culture is at the heart of Celtic Connections, stands amid the tumult may also be no nearer to being clarified. As it stands, this will be the last Celtic Connections in which Glasgow is part of the wider European political settlement.

So Shaw - like his fellow festival directors in Edinburgh - is keeping a close eye on how a detached, or semi-detached, UK will be dealt with, and deal with, the rest of Europe. As he notes, many Scottish, and UK, folk artists have plied their trade across Europe in the last fifty years. There are audiences for Scottish traditional tunes in Spain and Italy as much as in gigs in Scotland and Ireland. And international artists have long enjoyed playing at Celtic Connections.

But the paradigm has shifted. Brexit looks set to disrupt these healthy and economically beneficial relationships. Mr Shaw has noted the reluctance of African musicians to negotiate the Home Office’s crackdown on visas: at least two invitations that he offered were turned down. Now, especially with a No Deal Brexit, the complications of travelling to work in Europe may dissuade promoters and festivals there from inviting talent from these islands to the continent. Brexit, for festivals, could be a lose-lose scenario.