Nesta launches £3.7m social impact fund for arts and culture

The Cultural Impact Development Fund will give loans of between £25,000 and £150,000

The global innovation foundation Nesta is providing funds of up to £150,000 to help arts, cultural and creative organisations achieve social impact.

The £3.7m Cultural Impact Development Fund will provide "risk-taking, ambitious organisations in the arts, cultural and creative industries" with repayable finance and support. The loans will range from £25,000 to £150,000.

The programme is managed by Nesta and funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance being provided by its partners the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital. It comes after the launch of the £7m Arts Impact Fund, which has made 22 unsecured loans of between £150,000 and £600,000 in the past three years.

Nesta has introduced the programme after it commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 arts and cultural organisations earlier this year. Its report on the survey, Repayable Finance in the Arts and Cultural Sector, said there was strong demand for repayable finance to support the sector.

The report said that organisations were set to seek an aggregated £309m over the next five years. Demand for small-scale finance was especially strong, it said, with 41 per cent of respondents indicating that they would be looking for less than £150,000.

Fran Sanderson, director of arts & culture investments and programmes at Nesta, said the fund would "address the gap in the market for smaller loans" that was evident from the Arts Impact Fund.

"We hope we’ll be able to help smaller organisations all over the country use this patient capital to drive revenue generation and compound their impact," she said.

"We believe fervently in the power of arts, culture and creativity to engage and empower even the most marginalised in society, and the passion of organisations working in the sector to drive positive change for individuals, communities and wider society."

The fund will have a three-year deployment period from this month, with the final loans expected to be repaid by July 2026. Organisations can find out more from the Cultural Impact Development Fund website.

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