Start-up plus Art plus East equals StartEast

Members of the StartEast team outside the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, from left, Marnie Botwrigh

Members of the StartEast team outside the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, from left, Marnie Botwright-Rance, co-ordinator, Abi Bing, administrator, Laura Norman, StartEast director and Genine Sumner, senior producer. Other team members include Mary Muir, arts development officer, and Lindsay Gardner, StartEast project officer, both with Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

A scheme has been launched to help new arts companies and businesses across the region to grow and create employment in the “cultural economy.”

StartEast project director Laura Norman at the New Wolsey Theatre

StartEast project director Laura Norman at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Archant

The StartEast initiative, which was unveiled at a special event at DanceEast in Ipswich, is particularly aimed at start-ups and young businesses and has received more the £1m of public funding.

The launch event brought together representatives from a wide range of performance arts, including theatre, dance and music.

Project director Laura Norman and her team of advisers are based at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich but will be active across Suffolk and Norfolk.

She said the target for StartEast was to create jobs and help new business to grow, by giving them support, advice and mentoring.

The Normans, Jack and Ollie, who performed at the launch of StartEast

The Normans, Jack and Ollie, who performed at the launch of StartEast - Credit: Archant


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She said: “It is aimed at sole traders and small and medium enterprises - new, young businesses. We are looking for creative people across Norfolk and Suffolk.

“We are really open for people to come to talk to us, about how we can help them. We already have a wide range of people who have asked: ‘how can we get involved’. from theatre companies to dance and hip-hop performers, stage managers and computer game programmers.

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“We are unique,” said Laura. “We can help to establish your business plan and your artistic vision. Some of our experienced advisiors are artists who tour internationaly. Starting a new business is a risk. We want to make sure we help people plan things, as much as they can.

“It is a luxury to be able to do what you love, and love what you do. We want to work with 180 businesses over the next two years, 50% female.

“We can offer one-to-one mentoring and support events, we will organise them when it suits people, including Saturdays and in the evenings.”

The fundind has been awarded by Norfolk County Council, of which £609,773 is from the European Regional Development Fund, on behalf of the New Anglia LEP Cultural Board, in partnership with Suffolk County Council. This releases another £500,000 which has already been awarded to Norfolk County Council from the Art’s Council England

StartEast also had the support of the major venues and events including the New Wolsey Theatre, Norwich Arts Theatre, Sea Change at Great Yarmouth and DanceEast.

Sarah Holmes, chief executive of the New Wolsey Theatre said: “As a sector we are absorbed in ensuring that our own organisations deliver the best value for investment and served the needs of our audience.

“This sustained project gives arts organisations across Norfolk and Suffolk the rare opportunity of directly contributing to continued growth of the wider network of performance makers, applied artists and entertainment service provides, to ensure that our thriving cultural economy is ready for the challenge ahead.”

For further details about StartEast, call 01473 295938 or email info@starteast.co.uk.

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