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Grants are here to Help Boost the Creative Sector!

What do new kilns, cameras, metalworking equipment, websites, laptops and online platforms for festivals all have in common? They are all items the South East Creatives project has helped to fund. Over 160 companies and sole traders have been supported and the project has continued to operate throughout the pandemic!

Companies from Medway, Kent, Essex and East Sussex can apply for grants or workshops and mentoring or internships. South East Creatives is offering 35% grant funding for businesses in the digital, creative and cultural sector.  The grants are designed to help businesses grow with the ‘Top Up’ Grants (for spending between £3K – £4K) proving popular for businesses taking that next step or diversifying at this unpredictable time.  

This ambitious programme is stimulating economic development and is seeing success stories every day.  Kent’s Local Co-ordinator, Philippa Wall, said: “Having this resource to support our sector during this uncertain time means recognising what is needed and responding. It is likely business are digitally translating the way they would usually work within their projects and they may need new equipment to do this.  Some may have to pivot what they do entirely. We are happy to talk through where businesses currently stand and see what we can do to support them.”

Professional Photographer Rose Bainbridge, based in Cranbrook, has been in receipt of a South East Creatives grant and said:

“I have been a professional photographer for over five years but was beginning to really see the need to grow my business into videography to diversify. Financially, there was no way I could afford to do this, every time I saved, something more urgent than a new camera system would pop up, but SECCADS came along like a Fairy Godmother and made my little dream a reality. Without their financial support, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot and stream my first lock down wedding – and so many more to come!

I am forever grateful, it’s been a tough year for us all and this has been the highlight. Three months ago, I thought I would have to sell all my equipment to get through Corona. So being back doing what I love is an indescribable feeling.”

The project supports a wide range of business including advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, designers, film, television, radio, photography, IT software and computer services, publishing, museums, galleries, libraries, music, and performance and visual arts. 

In the South-East in 2019 the number of creative sector enterprises increased year on year with software and computer services accounting for nearly half of these.  In 2018, 105,600 people were employed in the creative sector in the South-East (2.3% of their workforce)*.  The effects of the Covid pandemic hitting have not been fully realised, we want to help ensure the sector continues to grow, which is where our grants, workshops and mentoring programmes come in.

South East Creatives, run by Thurrock Council, is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the programme aims to help more than 350 companies and sole-traders with business support or grants. The partnership includes, Thurrock Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Colchester Borough Council, Essex County Council, Medway Council, Kent County Council, East Sussex County Council and the University of Essex.

To apply for a grant or workshop/mentoring businesses should go to the project website to first check that their business is eligible for support

Photo credits @RoseBainbridge