Nesta announces almost £1m of new investments in museum festival, prison record label and others
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The supported projects in this round are:

  • Emerge Festival - an innovative new arts and culture festival, delivered by Culture24, will burst onto London’s night-time arts scene on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 September 2019.
  • InHouse Records - The world's first fully functional record label to be launched in prison, whilst supporting those who leave prison through a Graduate Programme.
  • The Story Museum - Support for the Oxford-based museum to completely redevelop its home with 10 new gallery and activity spaces including a dedicated learning studio for school visits.
  • Saffron Hall - Support to help the performing arts venue at the heart of a school in Essex to expand opportunities to generate its own income.
  • artFix - a cafe chain celebrating everyday creativity in the community

Nesta’s Arts and Culture Finance team uses social impact investment to support arts and cultural organisations that benefit society. It is made up of two separate funds - the Cultural Impact Development Fund, which is investing in InHouse Records and Saffron Hall (for a total of £240,000), and the Arts Impact Fund, which is investing in the Emerge Festival, artFix and the Story Museum (for a total of £750,000).

In 2018, Nesta found that between 2019 and 2024 there was a potential demand for £309m of repayable finance from arts and cultural organisations. The use of repayable finance, like the social impact investment Nesta offers, not only makes more money available as funds are recycled once they are repaid but also provides more flexibility in how the funds are used. Impact investors like Nesta also have a greater incentive to see projects succeed and provide additional support, like training and expertise, to investees.

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

“We’re really excited about this latest round of projects. The variety of loans we’re making shows the breadth of ways that social investment can be used to take commercial risks and experiment with new ideas.

“Social investment can go further than grant-funding alone since the money can be lent out again to other organisations once it has been repaid.”.

“Over the next 6 months, we’re really interested in supporting organisations that need finance of £25,000-£150,000 from our Cultural Impact Development Fund. Our team would be happy to have an initial conversation with prospective applicants.”

Nick Stockman, Festival Director at Emerge, said:

"Culture24’s new festival of London Lates Emerge is made possible by investment from the Arts Impact Fund run by Nesta. The financing gives us, a small arts charity, the chance to do a big thing: break down the barriers young people perceive as preventing them from enjoying museums and galleries. We’ll do this by handing the agency to London’s young people: they have designed the branding, devised and implemented the marketing strategy and will be showcasing their incredible talents at the festival. Nesta and the Arts Impact Fund is investing in the next generation and enabling us to support museums to innovate."

Judah Armani, founder of InHouse Records, said:

“What would our society look like if making profit was secondary to providing social value? What would our businesses look like? InHouse Records is making an incredible impact by putting people first. In partnering with Nesta, we are aligning with a like minded organisation, whose investment will allow us to continue putting people first.”

Tish Francis, Capital Director at The Story Museum, said:

“The Arts Impact Loan has played a critical role in the funding mix for The Story Museum’s exciting redevelopment enabling us to progress our capital project in as time efficient a manner as possible. We can’t wait to welcome our visitors back to the transformed Museum in 2020.”

Angela Dixon from Saffron Hall, said:

“Saffron Hall is a trail-blazing model that seeks to put world-class performing arts and fully integrated educational opportunities at the heart of the community. Sustainability is an ambition and a necessity and our success will have ramifications for everyone working in the performing arts sector. We are delighted to be partnering Nesta whose investment, expertise and vision will be invaluable on this journey.”

George Neris from artFix, said:

"Nesta's investment in artFix allows us to strike just the right balance between financial sustainability and social impact. We maintain an entrepreneurial spirit, while building communities in ways that enable everyday creativity and allow everyday people to live their life as a work of art".


Press contact - Will Hoyles, 07812 362714, [email protected]

Nesta_Press [email protected]

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

Case-studies of each project are available here:

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.

About Arts & Culture Finance: Arts & Culture Finance is part of Nesta and uses social impact investment to support arts and cultural organisations that benefit the lives of individuals, communities and society through their work. It manages two funds, the Arts Impact Fund and the Cultural Impact Development Fund, on behalf of its funding partners.

About 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.

About the Arts Impact Fund: The £7 million Arts Impact Fund is a collaboration that brings together private, public and philanthropic investment to provide unsecured loan finance 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 Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Nesta and Arts Council England, with additional funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

About Emerge

Emerge Festival is an entirely new concept for festivals, and for museum and galleries events. Imagined by and aimed at 18-30 Londoners, the Festival will appeal to the capital’s youth by showcasing everything from music and spoken word, to live art installations and theatre in an unrivalled breadth of iconic venues.

Over one weekend in September, Emerge Festival wristband-holders will have access to over 200 events taking place in venues ranging from The Design Museum to The Old Operating Theatre. With one affordable ticket, festival-goers will get to choose from fifty locations and the top pick of London’s emerging talent. It will turn expectations of who museums are for and what culture is upside-down.

Participating venues include: The Natural History Museum, Rich Mix, The Design Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Banqueting House, Handel and Hendrix Museum, Tower Bridge, The Old Operating Theatre, Strawberry Hill, Royal College of Music, National Army Museum, Museum of Brands, Guildhall Art Gallery & London’s Amphitheatre, Apsley House, Benjamin Franklin House, The Cartoon Museum and The Cinema Museum.

About The Story Museum

The Story Museum is a registered charity with a vision to enrich lives, particularly young lives, through story. We do this by providing great ways of engaging with great stories here in our Museum in the centre of Oxford and through our work in schools and the community. The Museum opened to the public in 2014 after a first stage of capital works and is currently raising funds for ‘Chapter 2’ to continue the development of its site and to bring the whole building into use.

About artFix

artFix is a one-stop platform from conception to execution, artFix is the combination of a café, a co-working space, a learning center and a popup venue, where everyone can Live Everyday Life as a Work of Art.