• Nesta announces £650,000 of social impact investments for three ambitious arts and culture organisations
  • Funds made available by ‘recycled investment’: repaid loans providing capital for new investments

£650,000 of investment is to be shared between the three organisations who are the latest tranche of organisations to receive the repayable funding, also known as social impact investment, drawn from two Nesta funds. They will each use the investment to develop facilities and offerings for young people in their communities.

The projects receiving the social impact investment are:

Two of the projects - Effervescent and Mercury Theatre are both receiving funds that have been repaid by other arts organisations since the launch of the Arts Impact Fund in 2015 and undrawn commitments recycling back into the fund. IRIE! Dance Theatre has received its funding from the Cultural Impact Development Fund.

Combined, the Arts Impact Fund and the Cultural Impact Development Fund have provided repayable loans to 30 organisations in the arts and culture sector, totalling £9m since 2015. Titchfield Festival Theatre, the Arts Impact Fund’s first investee, used a £150,000 loan to upgrade its unorthodox theatre space - a former warehouse dating back to the 1960s - which it managed to repay one year ahead of schedule.

Seva Phillips, Nesta’s Head of Arts and Culture Finance, said:

“Over 70% of our borrowers in the arts and culture sector work with children and young people in some form - from developing their creative skills to instilling self-confidence. The three organisations we’ve announced today are fantastic examples of this.”

“The fact that these new investments have been funded largely by repayments from our existing portfolio shows that social impact investment can work in the arts and culture sector. At the same time, it’s important that it is not expected to  replace grant funding, particularly for those organisations whose operating models have fewer opportunities for earned income.”

The £7m Arts Impact Fund blended public, private and charitable funding, with its investment coming from Arts Council England, Bank of America, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta, and additional support from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The £3.7m Cultural Impact Development Fund is supported by Access (The Foundation for Social Investment through the Growth Fund programme), with finance being provided by its partners The National Lottery Community Fund and Big Society Capital.


Notes to editor

Nesta press office contact: Michelle Gederon, 020 7438 2591  [email protected] / [email protected]

1. Images from all the projects are available on request and representatives from Nesta and the projects are available for interview.

2. Full case studies of each project funded are available on the Nesta website (linked below):

Effervescent: a social enterprise and registered charity who collaborate with children and young people to co-produce beautiful, truthful creative campaigns that make the world a little bit better.

IRIE! Dance Theatre: the UK’s leading dance theatre providing creative, educational and artistic activities in African and Caribbean dance for the local community and  emerging and professional dance artists.

Mercury Theatre: a major producing theatre for the Essex region that focuses on developing new talent and supporting young people.

3. Quotes from the funded organisations

  • Ellie Malone, Chief Executive and Creative Director at Effervescent, said: "We're thrilled to have received investment from Nesta, one of the most exciting and innovative organisations in the UK. The investment will enable us to do more amazing creative work with  children and young people who need it most. And to show how businesses and charities that are brave, and that choose to collaborate with children and young people can have an extraordinary impact on the world - at a time when it’s most needed."
  • Beverley Glean, Artistic Director and CEO at Irie Dance Theatre, said: “Irie Dance Theatre is really pleased to receive the funds from the investment loan as it will really help to support the organisation’s vision for developing the Moonshot centre and other activities that Irie does, including arts and training for the local community as well as other elements of work.”
  • Steve Mannix, Executive Director at Mercury Theatre, said: “We are very grateful to the Arts Impact Fund for their support of our Mercury Rising project by helping us realise £9.8 million of investment in our building, ensuring that we are able to continue to present and produce world class theatre for future generations.

“In particular, their support has enabled us to create for the very first time in our history an on-site rehearsal room, a dedicated community and education space, a professional standard dance studio, increased dressing room capacity and improved technical and digital resources. All of these resources will enable us to retain high quality artistic standards, offer opportunities for new and emerging local and regional artists, expand our training and apprenticeship offer and provide space for young people and our community partners.”

4. Nesta runs two arts and culture finance funds. Both use social impact investment to support arts and cultural organisations that benefit the lives of individuals, communities and society through their work. The two funds are the Arts Impact Fund and the Cultural Impact Development Fund.

  • Arts Impact Fund: The £7 million Arts Impact Fund is a collaboration that brought together private, public and philanthropic investment to provide unsecured loan finance between 2015-2019 to arts and cultural organisations in England that can demonstrate positive social impact. The contributors to the Fund all share a commitment to supporting the arts and culture and include: Bank of America, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Nesta and Arts Council England, with additional funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
  • Cultural Impact Development Fund: The £3.7m Cultural Impact Development Fund provides small-scale repayable finance to socially-driven arts and cultural organisations. The Fund pioneers the use of financial incentives with a clear trade-off of financial return when social outcomes targets are achieved. Organisations in the investment portfolio are able to get a reduction in the headline interest rate for loans with terms between two and five years by successfully evidencing they have achieved their social impact goals. Cultural Impact Development Fund is supported by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment through the Growth Fund programme, with finance being provided by its partners Big Society Capital and The National Lottery Community Fund.

5. Nesta also runs the Impact Investment Fund, a £17.6m fund investing in life-changing innovations that help tackle the major challenges faced by older people, children and communities in the UK.

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. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts. Nesta is based in the UK and supported by a financial endowment. We work with partners around the globe to bring bold ideas to life to change the world for good.