Funding bid to boost Brighton’s creative and digital sector

Performers in Pavilion Gardens during Fringe City at Brighton Fringe (Image licensed by Creative Commons via Wikimedia)
Performers in Pavilion Gardens during Fringe City at Brighton Fringe (Image licensed by Creative Commons via Wikimedia)

A funding boost for the creative and digital sector could be on the cards in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area.

The government is offering £20 million to encourage places like Brighton to do more with its cultural capital to boost economic growth.

Ministers want more jobs, new work spaces for creative businesses and possibly the revival of historic buildings.

The cost of studio space and premises for digital start-ups have previously been identified as barriers to growth in the local area.

This week the Greater Brighton Economic Board agreed to pitch for funding – with between £3 million and £7 million on offer from the £20 million pot.

Just six areas outside of London will win a share of the cash.

The Arts Council England is running the bidding process and has called for expressions of interest to be submitted in the coming weeks.

If successful, Greater Brighton will work with the Arts Council on a full bid during September and October.

At a meeting on Tuesday (July 17), economic board members were told that Brighton and the surrounding area – an internationally recognised cultural centre – had almost 3,000 creative businesses employing more than 7,600 people.

A report said: “Brighton boasts one of the largest populations of freelancers and homeworkers in the UK.

“Brighton’s creativity is especially well connected to technology as seen in the proliferation of fusion companies melding creativity with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

“It is at the forefront of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and search engine optimisation (SEO) and has a well developed screen (film, media and television) sector.

“These are companies which have high levels of IT, design (and) advertising capability and which offer some of the highest potential for growth.”

Phil Jones, who runs the digital sector’s umbrella group Wired Sussex, told the economic board: “We need to align our cultural and creative strengths with our digital strengths.”

Sue Baxter, from Brighton University, said: “We should present evidence of what difference getting help from central government would make to our success as a sector.”

Professor Baxter added: ”It would help position the UK as a test bed for identifying the new kinds of skills that we can’t necessarily envisage yet and which might help the UK in ways we might not yet appreciate.”

Greater Brighton Metropolitan College chief executive Nick Juba highlighted the Met’s proposed £18 million Centre for Creative Industries which is expected to build on the college’s existing strengths in Brighton and Worthing.

The economic board agreed to submit an expression of interest, with the “Creative Coast” as its working title.

Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.

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