5 outstanding facts about the South East creative economy

 14 March 2016

Today at a packed reception in the House of Commons, we celebrated the growth potential of the creative economy in the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area. Business leaders, MPs and council leaders, together with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale, spoke about the outstanding contribution this sector makes to the overall success of places.

Image: Acme Studios/Hugo Glendinning
Image: Acme Studios/Hugo Glendinning

Headlines about the recent upsurge in growth and impact are worthy of note, so here are five of them.

1. 48,800 jobs have been created

The latest headlines suggest the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area has seen rapid and significant growth of its creative economy, with jobs growth of 23 per cent, and 30 per cent growth in the number of creative businesses.

There is huge opportunity to optimise growth even further, with sector-led bespoke business support and sector-focused support for innovation. The South East LEP Creative Industries Group is working on this right now.

2. There are 15,000 creative businesses

An ambitious, coordinated approach really does pay off.

This is a large number and it's also dispersed throughout the South East. Local creative clusters are taking shape. 

We know we would benefit from stronger peer networks and from affordable studio and co-working spaces, so we are looking at how we put together a plan of action for these.

3. 96.4 per cent of the sector is freelance

With 96.4 per cent of the sector made up of freelance businesses and microbusinesses, it would make complete sense for the South East LEP area to pilot how to become the most freelance-friendly place in the country!

4. It has GVA of £2.5 billion

The South East LEP area contributes more to the UK economy than any other Local Enterprise Partnership area outside of London.


As part of the strategic economic plan for the South East, the LEP recognised that building a thriving creative economy is critical to its future success.

It makes sense to collaborate on developing a shared agenda with our immediate neighbours, particularly London. Indeed this is something our South East LEP Creative Industries Group is about to kick-off with.

5. 30,000 children and young people take part in cultural activity

Over half of the entire school community in the South East LEP area takes part in cultural activity, most of which has been expertly brokered by the Royal Opera House Bridge and Artswork in partnership with education and our sector. An ambitious, coordinated approach really does pay off. 

Cultural education and engagement are for our Local Enterprise Partnership the building blocks of a successful creative economy.

I’m certain there is much to celebrate about the local benefits of a thriving creative economy in your Local Enterprise Partnership area too!

Find out more with our publication Towards a National Prospectus for the Creative Economy in the South East.


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