Businesses from Greater Brighton’s creative industries generated more than £1.5 billion in turnover last year, a new study from the University of Sussex has revealed.

The report by Dr Josh Siepel, recently presented to the Greater Brighton Economic Board, also reveals that turnover of creative industries’ firms in the region has increased by 22% since 2014.

The number of people working for creative businesses, more than 16,000 employees at over 6,100 companies, is also rising – up nearly 20% over five years.

Dr Siepel, Senior Lecturer in Management at the Science Policy Research Unit in the University of Sussex Business School, said: “This study shows what a vital part creative industries play in the Greater Brighton economy.

“What the data also shows is that the creative industries cannot be associated with Brighton and Hove alone, but truly are a source of economic growth for the entire region with Crawley outpacing even Brighton and Hove’s impressive growth rate in job creation, new business formation and turnover.” 

Software 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.

Dr Siepel said: “This report paints a picture of a healthy and flourishing creative industries economy in the Greater Brighton region but the reality might be even rosier than the figures indicate.

“The report is based on Office of National Statistics data from tax records and so employment figures only capture employees on the payroll and making NI contributions, and so don’t account for the majority of freelancers, who are a substantial part of the creative economy.

“The data also underestimates the contribution of the craft sector to the economy as the vast majority of craftspeople operate as sole traders and are therefore not NI/VAT registered.”

Councillor Dan Humphreys, Chairman of Greater Brighton, said: “This report highlights the enormous contribution that creative industries make to the whole of Greater Brighton, making clear that it is a fantastic success story which  delivers huge benefits to our City Region economy.

“From the vast range of cultural offerings in the theatres of Brighton, Worthing and Crawley to more specialist industries such as advertising and architecture, the breadth and scope of firms and freelancers who contribute is immense. Combined, they pack a real punch forming a sector which is the envy of other cities in the UK and beyond.

“It’s now up to local and regional leaders to understand what creative industries need moving forward so that we can present a clear, compelling case to government and investors to ensure it continues to prosper and thrive for years to come.”

The Greater Brighton region stretches from Brighton, north to Crawley and Gatwick, and from Worthing in the west across to Seaford in the east.