Greater Brighton is to step up efforts to protect, support and help develop the creative industries in the region which latest figures show are worth £1.5 billion a year to the economy.

A report says the City Region has an extremely strong creative industries sector which includes computer software, animation, music and broadcast media such as radio and television, employing 16,000 employees across more than 6,000 companies.

But members of the Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) heard at a meeting that more needs to be done to support and grow the industry including taking advantage of new sources of government funding. A single industry employing so many people and generating that income would be the focus of special attention anywhere else, they were told.

Greater Brighton, working across seven local councils and involving two top universities and business partnerships representing hundreds of local firms, was ideally placed to present itself as the ideal place to invest in creative industries.

In February 2022 a £50 million funding boost was announced by the government to support growth in creative industries businesses. It will also this year publish a long-term strategy focused on promoting growth within the sector which Greater Brighton must be ready to exploit, the report said.

A spokesman for Greater Brighton said:

“We know how important the creative industries are to our region. They add a welcome vibrancy to our economic mix as well as providing highly skilled jobs and in some cases a real draw for people to visit us.

“Our strength as a region is sending the collective message to government and other potential investors that Greater Brighton has the companies, the people and the skill sets that are worth supporting.”

A Greater Brighton study commissioned just before the pandemic and written by Dr Josh Siepel of the University of Sussexoutlined the importance of the sector and revealed turnover had increased by 22% since 2014. Software design is the largest creative industries sector in the region, with the highest turnover of £785m, the most employees (8,467) and the most businesses (3,087).

The region’s second largest creative sector is the performing arts with a turnover of £329m from 1,123 companies employing 3,307 members of staff. The sector performs considerably higher than the national average, highlighting a regional strength in the breadth and quantity of arts organisations.

Firms providing advertising (+32.5%), architecture (+39.4%) and publishing (+37%) had the highest growth rates of turnover between 2014 and 2018.

The Board backed a move that would see a working group of Greater Brighton members and invited experts report back by October on a plan for boosting the sector. A specialist consultant will be employed to prepare a strategy based on the working group’s proposals.

The Greater Brighton City Region has been established since 2014. It consists of Brighton & Hove City Council; Adur District Council; Lewes District Council; Mid Sussex District Council; Crawley Borough Council; Arun District Council; Worthing Borough Council; University of Sussex; University of Brighton; Greater Brighton MET (further education representative); Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership; Adur & Worthing Business Partnership and South Downs National Park Authority.