£23m investment fund’s plea for applicants

Nesta, the innovation agency, is calling for more applicants for loans from its £23m social investment fund, as it announces its first five recipients.

The Arts & Culture Impact Fund was created a year ago by Nesta’s arts and culture finance team to help arts and heritage organisations build financial resilience and support their communities.

The social investment fund has been devised by Nesta to assist the creative industries as they rebuild and recover from the devastation of Covid-19 as a form of repayable finance to achieve social outcomes. Loans worth from £150,000 and £1m are available.

The fund is backed by a collaboration of public, private and philanthropic investors including Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Bank of America, Big Society Capital, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta. Freelands Foundation, which aims to broaden access to the visual arts, is the latest to join, contributing £3m to the fund.

“The arts and culture sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic” said Francesca Sanderson, director of Nesta’s arts and culture programmes. “As our funding has grown we welcome more applicants, especially during this difficult time. With evidence showing that impact investment can help organisations build resilience, this model of financing will be more important than ever. It’s time more organisations in the sector realised how they could benefit from it”.  

The first recipients have been awarded loans worth a total of £1.2m.

  • Kurious Arts have received £200,000 to fit out a new post production facility in Castle House, Sheffield to attract local film production companies and support emerging content makers from diverse and marginalised communities.
  • Future Yard CIC (pictured) have a £292,500 loan to create a new music venue and skills hub in Birkenhead, Merseyside that will showcase new music talent, provide development support for up and coming artists, and training opportunities for young people.
  • East London Dance and UD, both based in London, have each received £250,000 to create The Talent House in Stratford to support emerging talent, working primarily with young people aged 10-16 in Newham to develop their skills and career prospects in the dance and music industries East London Dance and UD.
  • Friends of The Pipe Factory CIC have been loaned £250,000 to buy the 19th century pipe factory in Glasgow’s East End to enable initial renovations so that it can become a cultural hub rooted within the local communities of Calton and The Barras, supporting the creative aspirations of young people.

“The last 12 months have been hugely challenging for organisations such as ours - and society more broadly - but we believe the experience of Covid-19 has shown how powerful communities can be” said Future Yard’s co-founder Craig Pennington. “We want to provide a dynamic new space for people to come together, enjoy some of the best new music in the world, support emerging artists and provide new opportunities for local young people. This support from Arts & Culture Finance has enabled us to buy our building on Argyle Street, bringing it into community ownership. This has ensured permanence for Future Yard CIC and enables us to create long-term, sustained impact." 

The Arts & Culture Impact Fund is open for applications until summer 2023. Details can be found at  www.artsculturefinance.org. Arts & Culture Finance by Nesta is also seeking additional investors to join the fund. For more information on supporting the fund please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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