What has happened over the last three years

Our cultural offer continues to be internationally renowned and a driver for tourism and for economic growth. 

The city’s festivals offer continues to grow and develop, and audience demand reamins high. The main arts festivals have all experienced increases in size, scope and profile particularly those that combine arts and creative industry such as Cine City, Brighton Photo Biennial and the Brighton Digital Festival.  New festivals continue to appear and flourish and include a new ambitious arts and health festival called Sick! Which takes place in March each year.  The May festival cluster has significantly strengthened around the Brighton Festival, the largest arts festival in England.  The ‘festivals within the festival’ includes Brighton Fringe (the third largest fringe in the world); Artist Open Houses (more than 1500 local artists take part); House (curated contemporary art); The Great Escape (Europe’s leading music industry showcase); B:fest (a youth arts festival) and the biennial Caravan (an international industry showcase of performance).

With significant EU Interreg 4 funding, the city council and the Arts Commission delivered four years of the White Night festival which grew to incorporate 70 events and an audience of more than 50,000 and was presented as a model of good practice to an international audience by the organisers of the Paris Nuit Blanche.  The legacy has been better partnership working across the city, more late night cultural events diversifying the night time economy, and a springboard for a number of local artists and companies that have gone on to tour internationally.

The city remains a draw for cultural and creative businesses, practitioners and creative entrepeneurs.   The city has a diverse cultural ecology that includes public funding bodies (Arts Council, Creative England), development agencies (South East Dance, Photoworks, New Writing South), major venues (Brighton Dome, Theatre Royal) and a large number of individual practitioners, freelancers and smaller arts organisations and venues. The city has a high percentage of Arts Council NPO (National Portfolio Organisations) who receive total arts funding of approximately  £3.5million each year.  A further £3million of arts lottery funding is received annually by smaller arts organisations in the city through open competitive bids: the highest in the region.

The city’s cultural partnership expanded its remit to include the creative industries to become the Arts & Creative Industries Commission in 2012. The partnership has now been in existence for 10 years and continues to be effective as an advocacy and policy voice for a diverse arts, cultural and creative industry sector. Other cultural networks of all sizes flourish in the city and include Express (arts and young people), Wired Sussex, and What Next?.

The city is establishing itself as a Film City.  A cluster development project led by the city council and the University of Brighton has led to two nationally significant film development agencies being based here: The BFI Audience Hub for the south east based at the University, which has received £900, 000 of funding to develop film exhibition across the region; and the Creative England Talent Hub based at Lighthouse which supports investment in film makers and is one of only two in the country - the other is in Sheffield.

The Fuse Report released in 2013 is a major piece of research funded by AHRC, which looked into the CDIT sector in Brighton and Hove and how the particular fusing of arts/ creative with information/ technology has created the high levels of growth in the sector here.   The report iterates the importance of ‘lifestyle’ including culture, in attracting and retaining high value businesses and also asserts that many of our most successful CDIT start ups were developed by arts graduates from the city’s universities.


The city’s strength in cultural activities for young people has been demonstrated by the joint commisisoning of youth services with Artswork SE (the ACE bridge organisation for the region) and by the successful music hub, Soundcity, which engages an impressive percentage of young people across the city in music making, with a focus on children in challenging circumstances.

There have been significant arts and culture strands to a number of recent public health and public safety programmes including projects highlighting domestic violence, promoting mental wellbeing and ageing better.

The city council has worked with developers to commission 20 public art projects in every corner of the city including Saltdean, Woodingdean, Patcham, Hove, Hollingbury and the city centre.

The council is developing neighbourhood specific cultural strategies and programmes with cultural partners aligned to major regneration, public space and transport projects to assist with placemaking.  This currently includes London Road and Valley Gardens.

A number of bids for capital investment are in process which, if successful will have a profound effect on the city’s cultural infrastructure.  This includes plans to transform the Royal Pavilion Estate, the Dome complex and to create a dance space in the new Circus Street development.

Brighton & Hove leads the way nationally is sustainable events management systems and has attained two international standards awards: for venue management at the Brighton Centre and for Outdoor Events.