Eight enterprising arts organisations share £2million investment to fund future plans

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Eight enterprising arts organisations share £2million investment to fund sustainable business plans


Birmingham Royal Ballet funded to produce a brand new arena presentation of The Nutcracker, while choreographer Wayne McGregor completes only cultural business at Olympic Park


The Arts Impact Fund is a £7million initiative to demonstrate the potential of social investment as an additional way of supporting enterprising organisations in the arts and cultural sector. Today, the third cohort of English arts bodies to receive funding have been announced - £2.4million is to be shared.


The Arts Impact Fund brings together public, private and philanthropic investment from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Nesta and Arts Council England with additional funding from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Launched in 2015, it was the first impact investment* fund specifically for the arts and cultural sector anywhere in the world.


Designed to help grow financially resilient organisations, the Fund also aims to recognise, bolster and articulate the social value created by the arts, including the positive impact it can have on the welfare and cohesion of local communities.


The new Arts Impact Fund investees are outlined below:


  • Birmingham Royal Ballet (£215,000) - to help diversify income streams, its production of The Nutcracker will be adapted for future arena and other large-scale venue tours.
  • Fuse Art Space (£150,000) - grassroots arts and performance venue in Bradford to launch pioneering residential arts training programme taught by world-class arts practitioners.
  • Make it Sustainable (£300,000) - community studio and makerspace for  designer-makers and artists in Birmingham to invest in preserving an industrial heritage building, The Old Print Works; creating opportunities for creative community engagement in a deprived area of the city.
  • MeWe360 (£150,000) - to create a new, long-term workspace and mentoring development hub for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic creative entrepreneurs in Soho.
  • Studio Wayne McGregor (£500,000) - to complete the construction of a new studio space for the multi-award-winning choreographer and his dance company; making it the first cultural organisation in the Olympic Park.
  • Walk the Plank (£170,000) - leading UK outdoor arts organisation to create, and relocate to, a new outdoor arts creative hub in Salford; contributing to regeneration of the local area and strengthening its cultural infrastructure.
  • Village Underground (£600,000) - iconic London music venue to acquire new, larger multi-arts venue in Hackney and partner with an arts charity, Community Music, to deliver social programmes.
  • V22 London (£300,000) - to acquire a listed heritage building in Orpington and create new affordable artist studios; refurbishing it for the benefit of creatives and local community.


The organisations will document their artistic, social and financial impact quarterly for the duration of their loans, with the Fund sharing the findings from all of the investees. As a demonstration fund, there is the potential for the model to be scaled or replicated in other sectors.


Helen Goulden, Executive Director of innovation foundation Nesta said: “We know the arts and cultural sector benefits us all in a multitude of ways, but access to funding and finance is essential to keeping the doors of galleries, venues and artist studios open. The Arts Impact Fund is one way of addressing this challenge faced by so many in the sector. I'm excited not only by these latest awards, but also the evident opportunities there are to grow social investment into the arts and cultural sector.”


Since 2015, just over £3million of the £7million fund has been shared among eight organisations representing a range of artforms around the country. Following this announcement, the Arts Impact Fund has committed £5.4 million to 16 organisations.


To check eligibility and to apply for a loan, visit: www.artsimpactfund.org




For more information contact Kasia Murphy in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2610/2543 or 079 2980 0765, or by email on: [email protected]


Additional comments and investee case studies are available on request.


Notes to editors


*Social/impact investment means the provision of repayable finance for a social and financial return. The Arts Impact Fund provides repayable finance in the form of unsecured loans of between £150,000-£600,000 repayable over 3-5 years. It does not provide grant funding.  


About the Arts Impact Fund: The £7million Arts Impact Fund is a collaboration that brings together private, public and philanthropic investment and provides unsecured loan finance to arts organisations in England that can show social impact. The contributors to the Fund all share a commitment to supporting the arts and include: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta, with support from Arts Council England and additional funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.


For more information please visit www.artsimpactfund.org.




Andrea Sullivan, international head of Environment, Social and Governance at Bank of America Merrill Lynch:

“Maintaining a vibrant arts sector is critical to the social and economic development of our communities, and with traditional funding sources constrained, the Arts Impact Fund offers an innovative financial solution with tremendous potential for scale. We are delighted to be involved in this initiative, offering not only financial support but also experience of impact investing which is helping to create sustainable change in communities globally."


Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation:

“Artists and creative businesses are vital to a thriving society, and investing in the arts can bring huge benefits to communities and to the places where they live. We are delighted to back a third group of entrepreneurial organisations with investment through the Arts Impact Fund.”


Jane Tarr, Director, Organisational Resilience, Environmental Sustainability and Newcastle at Arts Council England:

"It’s great to see organisations in Salford, Bradford and Birmingham receiving investment, along with MeWe360 which will support BME creative practitioners and companies with a new hub in London. The breadth and scale of sector interest in the Arts Impact Fund has continued to grow, and the investment is starting to have a social and artistic impact on audiences and communities across the country.”


Andrew Barnett, Director of the UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation:

“Our report exploring the civic role of arts organisations, released earlier this month, has shown that arts organisations are much more than just venues. They bring communities together, foster lifelong learning and provide the increasingly rare space where people spend time without commercial pressure. Social investment offers arts organisations the potential to fulfil a civic role with enterprising zeal, which is why I welcome the Arts Impact Fund’s latest announcement.”