Tuesday 10th March saw the launch of the Arts Impact Fund, a new £7 million fund which brings together public, private and philanthropic investment. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, NESTA and Arts Council England are providing investment.
We are very proud to have played a part in the establishment of the Arts Impact Fund. We funded the Mission Models, Money, Capital Matters research and report (Margaret Bolton and Clare Cooper) published in 2010 which made the case for such a fund. It argued that capital investment is key to enabling arts and cultural organisations to build their resilience. The report suggested that while few funders are interested in providing grants for commercial development, a specialist loan fund would enable arts and cultural organisations to adapt their business models and to invest in income generation, thereby producing increased income to support their independence and build reserves aimed at securing their health and vitality into the future.
I was a member of the committee – chaired by Fiona Ellis – that steered the Capital Matters project. I was also a member of the Tim Joss chaired Culture Forum committee which also reported at the end of 2010. One of Culture Forum’s recommendations, mirroring Capital Matters, was for an Arts Investment Fund “which identifies and develops ideas from within arts organisations that are commercially viable”.
Tim Joss established the Arts Ventures steering group in 2012 to follow up the recommendation for a new arts fund and in 2013 I became involved again when I helped Tim to broker relationships with potential funders/investors.
Our interest in the new Fund takes a number of forms. We are concerned to promote work which supports greater resilience in the arts and cultural sector; in developing the evidence base on the impact of the arts – both the social and artistic outcomes they deliver and how these different types of outcomes inter-relate – and how larger arts organisations with a significant asset base can support smaller organisations and help them access new financing streams.
We hope that the Fund’s research and analysis of social, artistic and financial outcomes, which we are supporting, will make a significant contribution to impact analysis in the arts and cultural sector. We look forward to working with Arts Impact Fund colleagues on this issue, with the aspiration that this work will help to provide firm foundations for a new more significant and sustained Fund in the future.
More information on the Fund is available at www.artsimpactfund.org.