We are currently supporting over 340 creative individuals and business across Norfolk and Suffolk. We have delivered over 3500 hours of business advice sessions and invested £250k to support growth and sustainability in the cultural sector.
Amber Onat-Gregory and Lucy Garland of Frozen Light create innovative, bold and exciting multi-sensory theatre for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities which tours theatres nationally.
We joined StartEast at a time where the company was growing (administratively as well as the demand for our work from audiences) but as artists we didn’t feel we had the capacity to facilitate this growth without some support. StartEast was definitely there at the right time and provided the support we needed to grow the business.
We have taken part in some group sessions, had some 1-1 support, and been successful in gaining a grant to support the development of our fundraising strategy.
The most useful part of the StartEast programme has been receiving the one to one support that is tailored especially for our needs. This allowed us to work with an advisor who was specifically matched to us to support our specific challenges. We had two particularly useful sessions and out of these we recruited a board and developed a creative business plan.
It was also wonderful to have a grant that you could apply for that would specifically cover the business development of your company. As artists we know where to get money from to support our art but finding money to support the business growth can be impossible. This grant allowed us to bring on a consultant who is working with us to put things in place so we are in a position as a company to apply for larger pots of core funding, something the company desperately needs to move forward.
We have really enjoyed being part of the community that StartEast has built around the programme and it has been great to know that there is a team of people who you can turn to for help. Having that backing of support for the business side of our artistic practice is amazing as no artistic training programme teaches you (or tells you) that when you become an artist you will also need to be a business person. Having a team of mentors or just people to turn to who are specialists in running arts businesses (businesses like no other) is an invaluable thing to have.
Holly Sandiford and Melanie Tilford from ArtAtWork CIC run visual arts for wellbeing projects and sessions in the community and for businesses. Working mainly with women with mental health issues but also with employees, young people, people with dementia, students, learning disabilities and with families. They love to incorporate walking, nature and heritage into their projects whilst delivering training in using the arts to promote wellbeing.
We were a start up when we joined StartEast so we were looking for guidance and support about how to sustain this. The financial side of running a community interest company was completely new to us and we were anxious about getting it all right.
We have had so much support and it really has been invaluable to us growing as an organisation. We have been to networking sessions and various training sessions and online seminars. We had a one to one financial advice session which was just brilliant as it was so tailored to our needs. We also had a one to one looking at our business as a whole and this was just fantastic too, having such quality advisors really does make a difference as poor and misguided support can actually hinder your business. We also received a grant for website development and copyright, an A3 printer and two laptops which was extremely helpful.
It has all been so helpful. I do think that having our website developed has really helped us. It really showcases us and what we do. We have so much experience in using the arts to support wellbeing but I don’t think people really knew that and we now have a much clearer brand and image and also confidence in ourselves and our experience and ability.
Also the quality of the one to one sessions was like gold dust, the advisors were really focused, experts in their fields and saved us so much time by guiding us in the right direction. There is so much to think about when running your own business and your really do need this clear vision from the outside.
I don’t think we would be where we are now without StartEast, we had lots of experience of doing what we do, lots of passion and determination but we really needed them to guide us in the right direction in terms of the business side of things. I am always recommending StartEast to other creatives!
Cordelia Spence from Stuff of Dreams runs a small rural touring theatre company which specialises in new writing based on East Anglian History. They tour to remote areas of the region performing stories about the region. As a company they are interested in performing in unusual spaces. They also undertake a summer tour of well- known classics playing in parks and gardens each summer and aim to provide sustainable employment for local creatives.
We applied to StartEast as we were anxious to develop and expand our skill set and look at ways to make the company more sustainable. We seemed to be good at creating opportunities but we wanted to learn how to develop them.
StartEast have been incredible. The team have gone out of their way to support Stuff of Dreams and give us the help we need. I have had individual mentoring from different members of their team on things like business growth, business plans and funding applications. I have attended courses on social media, participated in networking days, Arts Council training and conversation sessions, project planning and they have even helped me to focus on myself as a creative practitioner, something I did not expect.
I had a brilliant session on rural touring led by a leader in the field. I found that session very relevant and inspiring. The guidance given during the process of the application for a grant was really helpful and very supportive. The team also ensured I received an extra support session at that point which I was really grateful for. The programme has helped us to re-evaluate the company and the direction we want to take.
Thanks to Start East we now have a fantastic, highly skilled, specialist producer working with us who is having a very positive impact on our work and supporting and facilitating our growth.
Red Cactus Media, run by Remi Morrison, is a video production company within the health and wellness sector specialising in music videos, as well as digital marketing services for clients.
I joined the StartEast programme as I hoped to get a focus on my business. I was looking for a more creative-minded business support network. Also to increase my network in Suffolk and I needed to begin to take my business to the next level.
I have received 121 business advice and a grant of £5000 for specialist video production equipment. Also the course on social media and finance were useful. I found I was great at doing it for others and their businesses but found it hard to look at my business with the same eyes.
The 121 support and the grant have been the most useful parts of StartEast as I can now pay myself a wage from my business and I’ve increased my camera skills as I now have a camera and don’t have to rely on others with equipment.
My StartEast experience has been very positive. Overall the workshops and advice you get is great and I would really like it to continue. I feel you’ve started something and should continue. People now feel their creative business matters.
Laboratory Media Education, run by Paul Weston, simplifies technology so that it can be used creatively to achieve positive change in Education, Health and Social Inclusion. This typically involves discussion with groups or facilitators of groups about how they would like to realise this positive change and our team presenting tools and techniques and strategies for them to achieve this.
We became part of the StartEast programme as we were about to make the transition from Limited company to Community Interest Company and wanted an outside perspective on our business model and direction. We were also interested in identifying tools, contacts and organisations that would support the development of our work. We often spend a lot of time with people who want to support us just getting them to understand how and what we do, as it is a unique model. We were looking for someone to help us identify the next steps and help with the everyday financial and administrative processes involved. We also were looking to continue with developing new ideas in our practice.
Following an initial networking session we received two consultation sessions looking at the structure and aims of our organisation. We were also fortunate in being successful in our application to visit a relevant trade fair. We visited Music Tech Fest in Stockholm.
Attending Music Tech Fest has been the most fruitful part of our engagement with StartEast as we returned with an enthusiasm gained from our peers that what we are doing is valuable and that we are moving in the right direction. We spent a whole weekend with people who instantly understood what we do. Some want to visit us, the organisers would like us to contribute to the next event and one equipment manufacturer was so interested in our work they gifted us some new tech’ to take home. We had the opportunity to explore how we might develop new applications for technology.
We would not ordinarily have been able to afford this and definitely not for two of us to go. Often when one person returns with ideas they have to then translate what they have experienced and often the energy and understanding of the event gets lost or diluted. This time we had the rare opportunity to be creative and develop new ideas together in a unique environment. Since returning we are still discussing and developing ideas that were hatched at this event.
Giving us the financial support and trusting us to identify the people and events that we need to help us grow has had the most impact on our growth and development. Helping us to engage with existing events and for us to integrate us into existing international communities of practice has enabled us to gain a better perspective on our work.
Karen Pratt, from Karen Louise Dance, is a Suffolk based Dance Artist that works in community and educational settings, delivering and creating high quality dance work. She provides a safe, honest and social environment to create and explore movement. Karen runs a Youth Company, an older movers dance class, teaches in schools, delivers workshops and works on large scale community projects.
Due to the fact I’m still an emerging artist, I joined the StartEast programme as I wanted a space which provided expertise in being able to help me flourish and achieve my goals. For example, networking with other artists of various disciplines as I like collaborative work. Skills I didn’t possess in marketing and strategising. Confidence to put my business out there and really chase my goals. An organisation which believed in my work and skills to help me push myself further – for example helping me achieve a grant to run a summer school, something I’ve wanted to do for years and hadn’t the support or finances to be able to.
I have received one to one sessions with a variety of skilled people; Amit from Gecko, Tom Hobden, Sue Lawther, MetaValue, Joff from Gecko to name a few! Grant support. Network jams. Seminars and group work to build on particular skills.
The most useful part of StartEast for me was probably the one to one sessions with Sue Lawther. She has such a wealth of knowledge and was able to pick apart elements of my business that I was least confident in and question the route I was headed and what made the most sense. It really pushed me to work hard on elements of my business I was scared to attempt to work on.
StartEast is a great organisation that is so happy to support and boost local creative people and their businesses! They have really kick started the next step of my journey running KLD.