In June, The FuseBox took part in a British Council curated panel discussion at ArtLab17 in Milan. An event committed to building new policies to support the creative industry. We were asked to share our experience on how can creative hubs best contribute to urban policy making. Here, FuseBox Hub Manager; Rosalie Hoskins writes about what we talked about in our presentation.
After a quick introduction of myself, I decided to start at the very beginning and explain to the Artlab audience how The FuseBox came to be. Rewind the clock back to 2012 and Wired Sussex had just helped publish a research report that proved itself to be instrumental to the development of the creative, digital and information technology cluster in Brighton; The Brighton Fuse.
For anyone not in the know, Brighton Fuse was a 2-year research and development project which analysed the growth of Brighton’s strong digital sector. Brighton Fuse focused on examining the relationship between the arts and humanities and digital technology, explaining how these factors lead to innovation and business success. The project was led by Wired Sussex alongside the University of Brighton, the University of Sussex and the Council of Industry & Higher Education and the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
Wired Sussex decided to put these ideas into immediate action and coupled with some EU funding that helped turn disused spaces into creative hubs, The FuseBox was born. New England House became the home for this new innovation space in Brighton, an ex-industrial building that over time had become a creative hub itself, providing work space for over 100 different creative and digital businesses. The aim of The FuseBox was to create a physical space where the findings of the Brighton Fuse report could be tested. To offer collaborative workspace and business support to creative and digital entrepreneurs and start-ups. The FuseBox not only focused on the innovation but also on the innovators themselves, committed to helping people with ideas find their way.
The Brighton Fuse report continued to drive progress when in 2014, the evidence of Brighton’s creative and digital potential helped influence The Brighton City Deal. Local authority and strategy makers used the research findings and the success of The FuseBox to help win the deal for the city, securing £170m to create more workplaces, jobs and skills and overall building a better infrastructure for long term economic growth.
Another positive outcome of the Brighton City Deal was that a portion of money was secured to help renovate New England House to ensure its legacy was protected and in a wonderful 360 degree turn of events, the deal was actually signed in The FuseBox. This contribution to the development of Brighton is something we feel proud about but ultimately our aim is still very much on a grass roots level. The FuseBox continues to challenge and push collaboration to take ideas and make them real. Our ethos rests on creating experiences rather than giving lessons and with a bigger space, new residency and programme of events on the horizon, we are looking to the future!
A massive thank you to British Council and BASE Milano for giving us this experience. If you would like to know more about The FuseBox and the projects that we run, please check out our blog or drop an email directly to me Rosalie@wiredsussex.com. We would love to hear from you.