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.

Who are we investing in?

Founded in 1985, IRIE! dance theatre is the UK’s leading dance theatre company delivering creative, educational, and artistic activities in African and Caribbean dance. It does this through delivering interweaving strands of work for the local community and for emerging and professional dance artists. Its community offer supports people through dance at all stages of life, including programmes and events for young people, families, adults, and older people. Its education, training, and professional development offer aims to develop artists in the field of African and Caribbean dance who are equipped to meet the needs of diverse communities. This strand comprises its flagship BA (Hons) Degree Programme in Diverse Dance Styles, alongside a wider schedule of workshops, masterclasses, and residencies.

What are we investing in?

In 2007, IRIE! relocated to the Moonshot Centre, a community centre in New Cross owned by the London Borough of Lewisham. The company took on the management of the building in 2017. Over time, IRIE! has undertaken small refurbishment projects to uphold the building’s health and safety standards. However, little has changed in the way of its facilities, equipment, and technology, and the organisation identified that it needed to invest in these changes in order to continue to provide an attractive offer. In particular, in the process of developing its dance degree programme, IRIE! identified a need to improve student facilities in order to maintain academic standards and attract new students onto the programme.

IRIE! approached the Cultural Impact Development Fund for an unsecured loan of £100,000 to invest in equipment and technology for its dance studios, library, and teaching spaces, providing a modern and well-resourced centre for BA students to pursue their degree. The investment will also be used to upgrade the building’s security, including installing new lockers, and installing security cameras to ensure the safety of its students and community participants. These improvements will help IRIE! to attract more degree students, generating increased income that will improve its long-term financial health and resilience. The building upgrades will also help IRIE! better leverage this asset for room hires, creating additional opportunities for earned income to subsidise its mission-critical programmes and services.

Read the full IRIE! dance theatre case study on the Arts & Culture Finance website.

Image: © Irven Lewis