About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

The art of inspiring change

As Global Citizen Live wraps up another ambitious global music event, the Royal Academy of Arts launches its Summer exhibition (coordinator Yinka Shonibare, running in Autumn this year) and Strictly Come Dancing is back on the telly, art and entertainment are once again providing us with inspiration, timely activism and – not to be underestimated – plenty of fun and enjoyment.

Many of us find comfort in music, films, video games, arts and crafts. During the lockdown, BBC bitesize helped homeschool our kids, Netflix provided escapism and Sky Arts was a welcome sight in an otherwise cultural desert of despair.

The extraordinary efforts of so many in the sector, despite the looming uncertainty they faced, provided some much-needed light in a time of darkness. Cultural institutions and community arts organisations moved live performances from the theatre to our screens. Organisations such as Little Angel Theatre created engaging online puppet shows and craft activities for young children and their families while creative social enterprises such as Accumulate sent out art kits and provided online workshops to enable connection, conversation and continued support for people affected by homelessness.

Increasingly, as we’ve seen over the last 18 months, the arts can be a formidable force for good. But don’t take our word for it, check out this new report from the Creative UK Group. The UK Creative Industries 2021 report sets out the social, cultural and economic impact of our incredible creative sector. In addition, Creativity, Culture & Capital shared insights and inspiring international stories illustrating how the global creative sector delivers social and environmental impact and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre published research outlining the importance of local creative industries around the UK.

Inspiring change

At Nesta we believe that art and innovation are intricately connected in a way that benefits us all. Our new strategy has set ambitious goals. Over the next 10 years, our mission-driven approach will give every child a fairer start, help people to live healthier lives and build an economy that works better for people and the planet. We’re going to need fresh perspectives, new ideas, powerful collaborations and a collective sense of hope and optimism to help tackle incredibly complex social challenges.

We can’t achieve these goals alone. The arts have a unique ability to drive social change, highlight inequality, stimulate empathy and shift attitudes. There is so much we can learn from the people, institutions and organisations within our arts and entertainment sectors.

Nesta’s Arts Practice, one of five practices at Nesta, will explore the power of the arts as a catalyst for change. We will collaborate with artists to bring fresh perspectives and new approaches to mission-led innovation. We will experiment with creative technologies to help drive and deliver large scale social impact. We will unleash the power of storytelling to raise awareness and galvanise action.

Creative collaboration

Today, we’re excited to announce our first creative collaboration. Together with National Gallery X (The National Gallery and King’s College London), we are inviting the creative and artistic community to join us in the fight against the climate crisis and help us reduce household carbon emissions.

There is a need to highlight the significance of household emissions on climate change and help drive the urgency and scale of change required. We are offering a unique creative R&D opportunity to develop an experience that helps catalyse a net zero carbon future - inspired by one of the greatest collections of art in the world. To find out, click here.

We have other exciting collaborations in the pipeline. From game engine simulations to social impact entertainment, we see huge potential for content creators and artists to engage and inform national debates. From the legalisation of same-sex marriage to a reduction of single-use plastic, arts and entertainment influence culture and drive change.

Watch this space

Watch this space for more exciting announcements as we continue to develop the Arts Practice over the coming months.

We need the arts now more than ever, and although many in the sector have experienced both professional and personal loss during the last 18 months, I hope together we can bring about the change needed to create a fairer start, a healthier life and a sustainable future, today and for the generations to come.


Deborah Fox

Deborah Fox

Deborah Fox

Director of Creative Innovation

Deborah leads Nesta's Arts practice.

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