StartEast initiative to drive creative sector celebrates its first year

Kate Knowlden, administrator, left, and Rebecca Abbott, project co-ordinator, at the StartEast event

Kate Knowlden, administrator, left, and Rebecca Abbott, project co-ordinator, at the StartEast event at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Rachel Tarkenter - Credit: Archant

More than 130 businesses and individuals in the cultural and creative sector of the economy have received support during the first year of an initiative being delivered across Suffolk and Norfolk.

StartEast: Building the Cultural Economy offers support for sole traders, small and medium-sized firms and start-ups in areas such as the theatre, dance, music and literature.

During 2017, more than 800 hours of advice and training has been provided to help individuals and organisations take the next towards achieving their growth ambitions.

Bespoke support packages have been tailored following individual assessments to deliver a combination of one-to-one sessions, practical small group workshops and larger networking events, providing opportunities to meet other creatives from across the region and covering topics such as business planning, finance, fundraising and social media.

The initiative, led by the cultural board of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is being managed by Norfolk County Council in partnership with Suffolk County Council and delivered by the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, which hosted an event to mark its first year.

It has also received funding from Arts Council England’s Creative Local Growth Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

StartEast adviser Sue Lawther-Brown said: “Working with StartEast as an advisor has given me enormous optimism about the quality and quantity of creative talent in Norfolk and Suffolk. I’ve met such an interesting range of people, all pursuing businesses in the cultural sector, and all with passion, determination and a great deal to offer the future of this region.

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“It’s so encouraging to see so many new and established creatives wanting to work smarter, be more business -like and making a real difference to the economy of the local area. I look forward to meeting many more creative entrepreneurs in the year to come.”

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, added: “Major Arts Council England and European Regional Development Fund investment has enabled Norfolk County Council, in partnership with Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia LEP Cultural Board, to develop this ambitious and pioneering business development programme which will significantly strengthen our cultural sector, placing it at the heart of economic growth in the region.

“It is very exciting to see StartEast now fully underway and benefiting people across the region.”