The Brighton Festival could be scaled back as part of drastic measures being considered by arts organisations across Sussex to cope with impending budget cuts.

Other high-profile venues such as the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and the Chichester Festival Theatre are also preparing for at least a 10% cut to one of their main sources of income.

Arts Council England (ACE) has been told by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, that its budget could be cut by up to 30% over the next four years.

As a result, it has asked all the organisations it regularly funds, including 11 in Brighton and Hove and six across the rest of Sussex, to prepare a business plan as if their annual budget has been slashed by 10%.

Brighton Dome and Festival, which received almost £3 million between 2008-10, would need to save £100,000 a year.

It said it would have to reduce the number of original works it commissioned to balance its books, meaning it could be more difficult to attract another big name curator.

This year music legend Brian Eno lent his artistic vision to the threeweek festival while the year before world-renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor was in charge.

AndrewComben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, said: “In both these cases we have been able to work with these artists and make their visions possible.

“But that is not at any price. There are some really serious questions about the potential costs of these cuts.”

The creative industries make up a vital part of the county’s economy, especially in Brighton and Hove.

The Festival itself generates about £20 million, while across the city more than 16,000 are employed in the arts – 10.7% of the total workforce.

ACE predicts the creative industries sector can grow at between 2.5% to 5% a year, creating an additional 790 jobs in the city every year, but only if it is supported properly.

Jill Cochrane, area senior manager, advocacy and communications at ACE, said: “Cuts of this magnitude will have a real impact on the front line and will cost far more than the extremely small sums they save the Government overall.

“This is because cuts in local authority funding, a reduction in private sector support and escalating running costs will create the ‘perfect storm’ for many successful organisations who operate on the mixedeconomy model.”

Liz Whitehead is codirector of art gallery Fabrica, which received £540,000 from ACE from 2008-10 and employs nine full-time staff, three casuals and has up to 150 volunteers. Its last four exhibitions attracted 92,000 visitors.

Ms Whitehead fears slashing its funding will be exceptionally harmful because its other main income is from the EU, which gives money on a match-funded basis.

Fabrica is looking at raising extra revenue and may be forced to charge entry.

Ms Whitehead said: “We are an educational charity. Free entry is central to that so charging is something we would really resist.”

ACE is pinning its hopes on the Government letting the Lottery spend more on the arts.