Arts Impact Fund Invests £1.9 Million to Grow Commercial Ventures

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Arts Impact Fund invests a further £1.9 million in sector and points to growth in commercial ventures


The Arts Impact Fund today announces a further £1.9 million investment in five arts and culture organisations in England and reveals a trend towards cross subsidy models within the sector – in which commercial activity subsidises organisations’ work.

More than £3 million of loan finance from the £7 million Arts Impact Fund has now been shared by eight organisations that can show social as well as artistic and financial return, supporting them to become more enterprising and resilient. Nearly 100 organisations, including theatre groups, dance companies and artists’ studios, have applied for support from the Fund for a variety of purposes but many are opting to embark on commercial ventures, such as cinemas, restaurants and IP licensing businesses, to subsidise their organisations’ work.

Bringing together public, private and philanthropic investment from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Nesta and Arts Council England, with additional funding from the UK branch of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Fund is responding to a strong appetite for investment from the sector.1

The Arts Impact Fund is investing £1.93million in the following organisations:

  • Autograph Media – £150,000: to set up a new commercial image licensing business specialising in race and cultural diversity. Autograph Media is the trading subsidiary of the visual arts charity, Autograph ABP, based in Shoreditch.
  • London School of Mosaics – £600,000: to fund a property refurbishment in Lewisham to create a venue for a new mosaic focused education programme.
  • Live Theatre – £600,000: to launch a new commercial hospitality venture, making use of its capital assets to subsidise the work of the theatre in Newcastle.
  • Second Floor Studio and Arts – £280,000: to buy and develop new artists’ studios – called The Deptford Foundry – in South East London.
  • Soho Theatre – £300,000: to set up a new digital content subsidiary that will film comedy content and licence it to broadcasters, digital platforms and distributors, creating new opportunities for artists and reaching new audiences.

The Arts Impact Fund invested its first £1.1 million in three arts organisations in April 2016: South East Dance, Titchfield Festival Theatre and Bow Arts Trust. All of the Fund investees will document their artistic, social and financial impact quarterly for the duration of their loans.

Francesca Sanderson, head of arts investments and programmes at Nesta and on behalf of the Arts Impact Fund, comments: “The latest Arts Impact Fund investees point to the sector’s strong entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire for organisations to build their resilience through boosting their balance sheets and diversifying their revenues. We hope our investments will help the sector to grow its artistic and social impact on people and communities.”

The Arts Impact Fund is still open to applications with two more funding rounds in 2017. Organisations can apply for an unsecured loan ranging from £150,000 – £600,000 at affordable interest rates. The Fund will also be visiting York, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Hartlepool and Sunderland in the coming months. Visit www.artsimpactfund.org.

Insights from the first year of the Fund are also available to download via the website.

All images courtesy of pexels.com.

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