The Arts & Culture Impact Fund is now the world’s biggest impact investment fund for the creative arts and brings together a unique collection of public, private and philanthropic investors. The fund is for organisations that have a positive social impact on people and the communities they live in.

The fund will follow the Arts Impact Fund & the Cultural Impact Development Fund, which together have made 30 loans totalling £9.1m since 2015, in offering loans to help build resilient, innovative and independent arts, culture and heritage organisations. The previous fund supported organisations including the National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Newark Nottinghamshire, Birmingham Royal Ballet and London venue Village Underground. The new fund will offer loans, both secured and unsecured, of up to £1m, giving organisations access to affordable and flexible finance that may not be readily accessible through traditional routes such as high street banks.

Recipients of the loans can also benefit from additional support from Nesta including advice about how to become more sustainable and develop opportunities to generate income, help to understand and communicate their impact, and help to engage more with their communities.

Nesta has committed £6m to the Arts & Culture Impact Fund with additional support from the Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Bank of America, Big Society Capital, and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Nesta’s Director of Arts & Culture Programmes and Investments, Francesca Sanderson said:

“Impact loans are an under-explored way of supporting the arts and cultural sectors. I can’t wait to see what exciting, ambitious long-term arts and culture projects we’ll support with our new fund. We’ve learned so much running the pilot and are looking forward to helping many more organisations reap the benefits of our loans from the new fund over the next few years.

“We invite all potential borrowers to visit the Arts & Culture Finance website, check our eligibility criteria and apply.

“It’s hugely encouraging to receive support from all of our original pilot funders and significant new investors in order to expand on the success we’ve seen so far. The pilot fund saw well over £7m committed, with several organisations repaying their loans early, meaning we were able to lend on that money to other great projects.”

Titchfield Festival Theatre was the first organisation to receive investment from the Arts Impact Fund in November 2015. The volunteer-run theatre used their £150,000 investment to completely renovate its building and make it much more energy efficient. During the investment period the theatre succeeded in generating more revenue than expected and managed to repay the money borrowed earlier than planned.

Kevin Fraser, Artistic Director at Titchfield Festival Theatre, said:

“In 2015, Titchfield Festival Theatre embarked on an ambitious programme of refurbishment and additional finance from the Arts Impact Fund has enabled it to become the first and so far only fully green sustainable theatre on the European continent.

“The finance saved via the theatre's energy saving programme allowed the company to expand its operations considerably and has made it the largest community and amateur theatre in Europe, producing 30 shows in-house a year and providing free facilities and services to members.”

"The Arts Impact Fund is much more than just a loan facility, as the theatre's trustees received support from Nesta to expand its educational and community offer and now there is a vibrant youth theatre and various free training opportunities using professional's from within The Arts Industry."

Project INC is an arts education social enterprise that promotes and provides inclusive, creative learning for 11-19 year olds. The organisation borrowed £208,000 from the Arts Impact Fund, for the start-up costs of four learning bases in galleries or museums over a two year period. The loan gave Project INC the opportunity to boost its financial resilience and sustainability in an innovative and productive way, whilst retaining alignment with its core mission.

Lisa Alberti, College Lead at Project INC, said:

"Nesta AIF supported us in scaling and reaching a larger number and range of young people with our creative education programmes.Together we have developed a Theory of Change that positively impacts and supports our social purpose."


Notes to Editors

Nesta press office contact: Michelle Gederon, 020 7438 2570 [email protected] / [email protected]

Nesta will launch the Arts & Impact Culture Fund at the Central School of Ballet in Southwark, on Wednesday 4 March. The Central School of Ballet received a £600,000 loan from the Arts Impact Fund to open its new London premises in Paris Gardens.

Previous fund investees Central School of Ballet, Mercury Theatre, The National Holocaust Centre & Museum/The Forever Project will participate in a panel discussion and there will also be performances from Central School of Ballet and InHouse Records at the launch.

Nesta’s Fran Sanderson and existing investees are available for an interview. Images of existing projects are available on request.

Quotes from investors

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said:

“As a long-term funder of the arts and a pioneer of social investment in the UK, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation was an investor in the Arts Impact Fund, and we are delighted to be part of this new fund, which takes learning from the Arts Impact Fund and uses it to evolve its offer, increasing its scope and potential to help the arts and cultural organisations in the UK to thrive.”

Big Society Capital

Anna Shiel, Head of Origination at Big Society Capital, said:

“The arts enrich so many aspects of our lives – and they can also play an important role in building stronger and more inclusive communities. We are very pleased to be working alongside Nesta on this fund and build on their previous success, while also developing new investment models that blending grant with repayable finance. By enabling arts organisations to develop and expand enterprising activities, we hope this investment will help to foster vibrant communities and local economies.”

National Lottery Heritage Fund

René Olivieri, Interim Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“We are very excited to be part of this new collaboration that will support the culture and heritage sector to be more innovative, resilient and sustainable. The Arts & Culture Impact Fund, the largest of its kind, creates a great opportunity for change that will help organisations increase their positive impact on people and communities.”

Arts Council England

Francis Runacres, Executive Director, Enterprise & Innovation at Arts Council England said:

“Developing new forms of investment for the cultural sector is a commitment of the Arts Council’s new 10 Year Strategy, and our partnership with Nesta on the Arts and Culture Impact Fund is an important part of that work. Expanding access to finance is a key aspect of helping arts and cultural organisations to become more dynamic and resilient, so we’re delighted to be working towards that goal by joining the National Lottery Heritage Fund as a cornerstone investor in this project.”

Socially-driven arts and cultural organisations of all sizes across the UK are invited to apply for loans between £150K and £1 million with a 10-year repayment period. More information is available on the Arts & Culture Finance website (

Full case studies of projects mentioned within the news release are available on the Nesta website (linked below):

Titchfield Festival Theatre: a charity-run amateur dramatic theatre based in Hampshire, which is run entirely by volunteers.

Project INC: an arts education social enterprise based in the North West, that promotes and provides inclusive, creative learning for 11-19 year olds.

Case studies for all previous investees can be accessed here.

About Nesta

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better.

Over 20 years we’ve been tackling the big challenges facing society through research, evidence and policy, practical programmes, making grants and investments, and running experiments. We use these methods to make positive change happen where it matters to everyone, from the frontiers of personalised healthcare to stretched public services and a fast-changing jobs market.

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.

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