Brighton lives and breathes through its creativity. The city comes alive during May’s festival season, but maintaining the local art scene’s buoyancy is a year-round job. There are many businesses helping to keep it thriving. Here are 9 we think deserve a shout out.
Simon Webster Hair – founded by Sophie and Simon Webster – might be one of the city’s foremost hair salons, but it operates under the umbrella of SWH Creatives. SWH Creatives have provided exhibition space for Cassette Lord – whose vibrant work you’ll have seen on electricity junction boxes around town – as well as support for a host of local artists, and free-of-charge hair services for musicians and clothes designers. In 2018 they were headline speakers at the national hairdressing conference, Salon Smart, discussing how their approach to community and creativity has influenced salons across the country. Plus: they give you great hair!
Fusebox is Wired Sussex’s hub for digital innovators, tech visionaries and creative technologists. They curate Arts Driva: a programme giving local artists the opportunity to combine skills and assets with the area’s foremost digital minds. They also offer a fully subsidised six-month residency that offers 12 artists or collectives training in emerging technologies – like immersive, 5G and quantum computing – alongside partnership opportunities and a generous volume of support.
Brighton Palace Pier might be best known for its 2p slots, but it’s a relentless supporter of local arts. Like the events it sponsors – including Brighton Fringe and Kemptown Carnival – the Pier is a huge draw to visitors and an invaluable facet of local culture. “Brighton has a long history of eclectic events, as well as an array of unique venues,” says Sales & Marketing Manager Neil Blackmore. “It takes something special like the Fringe Festival to bring it all together. It’s been great for Brighton Palace Pier to support the Fringe Festival and be a part of something that celebrates the city’s creativity and welcomes many visitors.”
If you’ve enjoyed a beer at a local exhibition launch, there’s a good chance it was provided free of charge by hop dons Bison Beer. They’ve supported local artists like Ludvig, Jessica Sharville, Tony Mason, and Dave Streeter and sponsored numerous end-of-year shows at Brighton University. They’re serial collaborators – including with PLATFR9M on our Beer O’Clock brew. “Supporting Brighton's art ecosystem is very important to Bison,” they say. “We feel the individuals involved in progressing the city’s current capacity for art projects are absolutely paramount to the growth Brighton as a whole.” Hear hear.
Since opening in 2011, Rodhus has provided invaluable workspace and community feels for local creatives. They house over 30 people at a time, from photographers to screen printers, to musicians and sculptors. Their studios, based on Hollingdean Road and with the likes of Eelus amongst their artists-in-residence, are a true Ground Zero for inspiration.
Sol Design Collective was launched to showcase and promote the original artwork of local creatives, whilst providing the support and community that they can sometimes lack as a result of long hours in front of the keyboard/workbench/easel. Founder (and PLATF9RM bae) Jan Burgess has a long history of working within these financially and emotionally tumultuous industries, and is determined to instill some resilience into those that commit their lives to them. Go, Jan!
This local company are committed to a number of sustainability-driven initiatives in Asia. Thus it makes sense that they are also supporting the Brighton art ecosystem by being a principal sponsor for this 2019’s Brighton Festival. They’ve marked the occasion with their Selective Bites series, profiling their favourite Asian restaurants in Brighton, which you’ll find in the festival guide dotted around the city.
In the crudest sense, supporting artists is any art gallery’s raison d’etre. But Fabrica are scaling this mission. Founded in 1996 by a group of artists from Brighton’s Red Herring studios, their home is in the deconsecrated Holy Trinity Church on Duke Street. They work tirelessly with the local community through their Beyond The Gallery scheme, which works with schools, further and higher education students and community groups. Their Artist Resource – offering a reference library, talks, workshops, seminars and more – is invaluable for anyone local setting out on that long, fraught artistic adventure.
It’s not that unusual to find pubs offering up space on their walls for local artists to display their work. What is unusual is for the establishment to pay their 20% commission fee to charity. It’s just another way that the Robin Hood – recently voted Brighton’s best pub – contributes to its community. Pop in for a pint, then check out the Lock-In Gallery across the road when you’re done.
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