The South East creative economy is thriving. The number of creative, media and digital companies setting up or expanding in East Sussex is growing rapidly. For those seeking to set up a creative business, there are specialist grants, start-up loans and free support available, plus a wide range of affordable workspaces and a welcoming business community.
All this in easy access to London and Brighton with some of the greatest concentrations of digital, media and tech in the UK...
[photo: Towner Gallery Brewers Commission, Eastbourne]
East Sussex has the benefit of an amazing and talented cultural sector which plays a very important role for the entire region. Culture means improved lives, improved urban and rural landscapes and is highly transformative in terms of income-generation, job creation and export earnings.
Creative networks operate across all cultural, creative and digital sectors in East Sussex. Digital technologies are disrupting traditional models and opening up new possibilities for all kinds of creative start-ups.
The mindset generated by our creative industries spreads far wider than the sector itself, stimulating innovation and growth in all other industries.
East Sussex is home to some of the best arts and culture in the world. The coastal strip forms an important part of England's Creative Coast - a dynamic ecosystem stretching from Brighton to Margate showcasing the South East's exceptional art and culture.
Hastings and Rother have been named the UK's newest Music City while the Coastal Culture Trail links seventeen miles of beautiful East Sussex coastline via three award-winning contemporary art galleries, Towner in Eastbourne, the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings.
While our creative professionals are predominantly based along the coastal strip, Lewes has the highest density of registered creative businesses in East Sussex largely attributed to the influence of Glyndebourne and some spillover from Brighton.
The most recent economic impact assessment found that Glyndebourne generates £11m GVA to the East Sussex economy each year through its highly specialised supply chain of musicians, costume makers, set designers and builders and production staff, in addition to the exceptional contribution it makes to the visitor economy.
Last year, Newhaven Town Council launched its inaugural festival. It was a wonderful success and has reached across all the community. This year is promising to be even better with over two weeks of arts & culture throughout the town including walks, talks, exhibitions, workshops and Artwave open houses.Newhaven Festival
Taking place in September each year, Coastal Currents is a celebration of some of the best visual arts and culture in the region. Supported by Arts Council England, Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council, Coastal Currents offers an impressive curated programme of events and open studios.
Photo: Beccy McCray B N-Ice Lolly LoversVisit Coastal Currents Website
The Charleston Festival, now in its 30th year, presents an annual celebration in the spirit of the Bloomsbury group and brings together a remarkable array of leading writers, thinkers, artists and performers interested in themes of history, politics, science and literature.Charleston Trust
Artwave is an annual festival of artists and makers from Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven and surrounding villages. Open to all, Artwave is an inclusive, accessible and diverse experience for all those taking part and visiting.Artwave Festival
Music Month celebrates Hastings and Rother's new Music City Status. From classical and choral to folk, rock and indie, the month-long festival of live music takes place from Valentine's Day to St Patrick's Day each year in venues across Hastings, Bexhill, Battle and Rye. Music Month includes annual favourites like Hastings Fat Tuesday and the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.
Photo: Dr Savage by Mark RichardsMusic Month
Rye is gearing up for the eighth annual Rye International jazz and blues festival taking place from Thurs 22 - Mon 26 August encompassing the summer bank holiday weekend. This year’s programme includes intimate headline concerts and fantastic free music on the street, stages & fringe venues in Rye.Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival
Creative communities in East Sussex operate across digital, media and technology as well as the arts, television and film, design, architecture, photography, illustration, advertising, communications, music production and more.
Find out about each of the groups below, some of which offer studio space, and visit our find the right property page to search for coworking and other workspace.
Blue Monkey Network | Towner
An Eastbourne-based network run by artists in partnership with Towner, the Blue Monkey Network provides opportunities for professional and creative development for artists and helps ensure the local arts community remains strong and vibrant, sustainable and productive.
A creative and cultural hub in Eastbourne, the Devonshire Collective offers studios, maker spaces, print room facilities, gallery and café for artists, community members and the wider public.
Hastings Arts Forum
Hastings Arts Forum is a registered charity and members’ organisation working to support the arts locally and regionally. The forum provides exhibition space at the Gallery at Hastings Arts Forum for all of its members to exhibit their work to the local community.
A free resource for local creatives to add information about what they do, Hastings Creatives is an established directory used by those seeking creative services in Hastings and surrounding areas including Battle, Bexhill and Rye.
A community of creative, digital and tech workers based in Eastbourne and the surrounding areas that hosts events, meet ups, showcases local opportunities and provides workshops that help up-skill creative, digital or tech knowledge.
Organises and runs live projects, workshops, talks, seminars, exhibitions, film screenings and further events with the aim of creating a dialogue between the local community and the wider national and international community of designers, makers and thinkers. Making Lewes is a community organisation that promotes the exchange of knowledge in the fields of making, architecture, design and sustainability.
Collective of photographers and members organisation that delivers a festival programme, regular talks, exhibitions, workshops and mentoring.
Rye Creative Centre
Rye Creative Centre is a cultural hub and outstanding studio facility for over 30 residents known collectively as New Road Artists. The Centre offers a dynamic programme of events, exhibitions and workshops for adults and young people throughout the year and boasts an art room, gallery and print room – all available to hire.
Wired Sussex is a membership organisation and for anyone in gaming, web, mobile, software, animation, television, music, film or online advertising, it delivers a wide range of services and digital events as well as offering a recruitment site supporting companies and freelancers in the digital, media and tech sector.
If you run or know of any suitable networking groups in East Sussex that you’d like us to list here, please email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial planning doesn’t come easily to everyone. As a creative business owner or freelancer, while you're concentrating on developing your practice, building your client base, winning new clients, financial planning can feel time-consuming and a hindrance. However, it is only a hindrance if not understood and done properly.
How do you as a creative know that you need financial guidance?
First, you know you need financial planning or advice when: You want to figure out how to optimise what you earn to make more time to create;
You know you know nothing about money so would just assume not talk about it; You're struggling with cash-flow and it's all getting a bit stressful
While financial planning is not a replacement for sound financial advice or good accountancy practice, it is the beginning of good business practice and will provide you with peace of mind.
Locate East Sussex has experts who are used to working with creatives. We also run free financial planning events for creative businesses to upskill. To find out when the next event is email email@example.com
Universities and colleges in East Sussex are turning out some of the very best creative talent and collectively East Sussex College Group, the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex are kick-starting careers in all aspects of the creative, media and digital industries.
These institutions are renowned for the calibre of foundation training and their lively and dynamic experimental approach to the teaching of creative subjects at degree and post-graduate level. Specialisms cover all aspects of creative, digital and media industries including game design, animation, broadcast media, filmmaking, digital post-production, television production, journalism, art and design, architecture, illustration and creative content production for VR. Graduates progress to enjoy successful and fulfilling careers within the industry.
Visit our Education and Training page