Arts organisations see £2.4m social investment from Nesta

The only fund dedicated to making social investment work for the arts recently announced the recipients of unsecured loans to the value of £2.4m.

Organisations receiving investment are Birmingham Royal BalletFuse Arts SpaceMake it SustainableMeWe360Studio Wayne McGregorV22Village Underground and Walk the Plank.

The money has come from the Arts Impact Fund. This latest round of investment brings the total committed to £5.4m into 16 organisations, with £2.2m having been drawn down so far. Investees have up to five years to repay the loans, with interest rates ranging from 3%-9%.

The £7m Arts Impact Fund is funded by Nesta, Arts Council England, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Esmee Fairbairn and Calouste Gulbenkian foundations.

According to Nesta, the fund is a way of testing if there is a demand for repayable finance in the arts and culture sector and if the business models are capable of repaying the finance taken on. The organisations have to deliver a social and financial return.

Helen Goulden, executive director of innovation foundation Nesta said: “We know the arts and cultural sector benefits us all in a multitude of ways, but access to funding and finance is essential to keeping the doors of galleries, venues and artist studios open."

All investees are required to explain how the activities they carry out positively affect individuals and/or communities. These outcomes must be in at least one of the areas of citizenship and community, health and wellbeing and youth and educational attainment.

They include things like improving young people’s public speaking skills and confidence through comedy workshops, to reducing the number of falls suffered by elderly people by using clinically approved falls prevention programmes in dance activities.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet will receive £215,000 to adapt its production of The Nutcracker to enable the performance to tour and be performed in large scale venues. This will increase future revenue in the future, the profits from which will support its charitable objectives.

These include outreach programmes such as Dance Track, a talent-identification programme that trains young dancers aged 6-8 who otherwise would not have an opportunity to participate in ballet classes.

Almost half of the participants are from minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) and all schools are in areas where engagement in arts and cultural activities is below the national average.

The largest amount of money invested was £600,000, which went to Village Underground to acquire a new larger multi-arts venue and partner with arts charity Community Music to deliver social programmes.

Community Music offer programmes such as instrumental tuition in guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboards, as well as radio show production in Haringey and surrounding areas.

Photo credit: Birmingham Royal Ballet