It’s not news that the funding environment for arts and cultural organisations has been under pressure for some time now. We’ve seen public funding reductions at a national and local level and this has had serious consequences for arts organisations across the country.
The recently published Warwick Commission report makes a clear and compelling economic case for quelling any further reduction in public funding for the arts. As the report states, the workforce in the cultural and creative industries is growing over four times faster than the UK’s workforce as a whole and this sector is dependent upon talent development, R&D, networks and career opportunities that have been supported by public investment.
However, the need and appetite for other forms of finance in the arts has been growing for some time now. In January 2014, the Cabinet Office evidenced up to £28m investment demand from arts-based organisations. And when Nesta launched The New Art of Finance in July last year, it was clear that there was an ever increasing appetite for an expanded range of financial instruments and methods that could bring new money into the arts, and offer more opportunities for existing funding to work harder.
The Arts Impact Fund announced today brings together commercial, philanthropic and lottery finance in a co-mingled fund and will be the first of its kind to focus on the social, artistic and financial return created by arts-based organisations.
Over the next few years, Nesta and funding partners Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with support from Arts Council England, will be identifying a portfolio of artistically-excellent organisations seeking to expand and grow their impact.
We all want to test whether there’s real demand for a fund of this kind and build the case for how social investment can be used to increase financial resilience in arts based organisations.
The fund will accept applications from the 15 April 2015.
Keep an eye on the fund website (www.artsimpactfund.org) for updates and further details.