Creative business owners across Essex, Kent and Sussex will benefit from a special programme of support, helping them prepare for investment and grow their business. The South East region is being led by Kent County Council and encompasses Essex, East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Medway, Brighton and Hove, Southend on Sea and Thurrock.
Create South East
About the region
The region has an appetite for creative growth and more investment in a historically underfunded sector, with a lot of goodwill and organisation support already behind the programme
Dan Chilcott, Director at Margate Now CIC says, “There’s a huge amount of talent across the region, and I’m really excited about how those businesses we work with can grow.”
The team are interested in any creative business with an aspiration to grow, but prior research into what’s growing across the region has highlighted specific subsectors. There’s a screen-based area of interest around film and digital tech, but also design including fashion.
The team see these as regional growth strengths, but are generally looking to find businesses who have an ambition to scale and a chance to unlock growth potential.
There are already amazing clusters of activity in different areas across the region.
By tapping into areas with a track record, the team hope to underpin and strengthen that demand.
Dan says, “An investment readiness programme can really add value to the way those founders are thinking about where their business might grow.”
People are ambitious and knowledgeable, they know their sectors, and they’re doing really amazing stuff. There’s a huge talent across the creative sector in the southeast.
Dan Chilcott, Director, Margate Now CIC
Objectives and delivery
The South East programme includes 1-2-1 mentoring, tailored workshops and peer-to- peer support to help businesses in the cohorts explore what investment means to them.
One of their core aims is to ensure that businesses within all the cohorts are well-networked, to combat some of the loneliness that founders might feel. Dan says, “It’s about connecting [them] with people who are facing similar challenges and opportunities. All the businesses have a slightly different offer but everyone brings their own creative approach.”
The programme provides quality advice and support from those who have grown their own creative businesses or are looking to invest. Grace Hart, Create South East Programme Officer at Creative UK, says:
“We want to make sure that there’s a meaningful relationship that comes out of the mentor pairing. This isn’t a programme where people get stuck with somebody who isn’t aware of the stage they’re at or the industry they’re in.”
Creating an environment that fosters growth and is beneficial to founders, they hope the first cohort will become champions for the programme and help drive long-term creative growth.
Impact and response
The programme has been very well received, with businesses, partners, mentors and investors all on board with its mission. Dan says, “There’s no complacency about the programme and it’s really exciting to see everyone working together toward its aims.”
Collaboration has been a key success story, particularly between the different regions, who all share knowledge and experiences of delivering the programme. Grace says:
“The opportunity for collaboration is there and we really want to use it to the businesses’ advantage. We want to create a support network that goes beyond the programme.”
Bringing businesses together with their peers and mentors has been really positive, offering new challenges, accountability and leadership opportunities. The team also hope that encouraging partnerships and networking will identify opportunities for the community to invest and add value.