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?

Saffron Hall is a state-of-the-art, 740-seat performance space built on the grounds of Saffron Walden County High School. Since opening in 2013, Saffron Hall has established itself as a cultural centre for the region, offering a diverse programme of international artists, local performance groups, and learning and participation activities. The hall’s location within the county high school provides unparalleled opportunities to enhance and embed access to cultural education for children and young people - not only for students within the school, but also for students from the surrounding secondary and primary schools. Additionally, the organisation delivers a broad programme of learning and participation activities for families, older people, and the wider community.

What are we investing in?

Following the unexpected withdrawal of a key funder, Saffron Hall found itself with a gap in revenue. Needing to fill this gap over the next three years, the organisation created a plan to scale up its fundraising and earned income activities to compensate for the loss of funding and put itself in a healthier financial position for the future. Saffron Hall approached the Cultural Impact Development Fund for an unsecured loan of £150,000 to transform its business model in two ways. In the short term, it aims to shift away from reliance on a single funding source to a more diversified fundraising portfolio.

In the long term, it aims to grow its earned income through high-yield opportunities in ticket, catering, and merchandise sales. Through upfront investments in these capacities, the organisation will look to cover its immediate gap in revenue while also building strong business units to improve its future financial outlook.

Given its ambition to serve as a new model of regional concert hall that connects world-class music with schools and the wider community, building a more resilient business model will help Saffron Hall to continue and increase its efforts to ensure access to high-quality concerts and participatory music programmes for local people of all ages and backgrounds. With part of its investment dedicated to additional staff capacity for its Learning and Participation programme, the organisation is committed to scaling up this strand of activity in line with its wider organisational growth and keeping community engagement at the heart of its work.

Read the full case study on the Arts and Culture Finance website.

South East