Tailored support is being made available to non-profit arts organisations wanting to access social investment to develop commercial opportunities.

Arts initiatives looking to raise investment of over £500k over the next year are now able to apply for an investment readiness grant to help them apply for investment from the Arts Ventures Fund, which will open in 2014. Not-for-profit organisations that work in the arts sector, wish to exploit a commercial opportunity and are able to report on the artistic and social impacts of their work will be eligible for support.

The Arts Ventures Fund, co-created by Investing for Good and the Cabinet Office, will be the first social investment fund specifically for the arts sector. It will have £10m to deploy into organisations that deliver both artistic and social benefits, specifically those that are aiming to increase access to and participation in arts and culture amongst older people, establish education projects for young people and develop projects in the wider community. The initiative is seen as having the potential to help many small and medium sized arts and cultural organisations to develop greater sustainability and financial resilience. 

The fund, and support for applying to it, have come about following a survey conducted by AP on behalf of Arts Ventures in 2012, when it became clear that the combination of reduced state funding and a decline in corporate giving had left many arts organisations keen to explore ways of diversifying their income. According to the findings, 93% of arts organisations would like to generate more income from commercial activities, and 84% of respondents said they would benefit from a dedicated arts investment-readiness consultancy.

Although the arts sector makes a significant contribution to both the UK’s economy and society, it has been acknowledged that there is a wide gap between the availability of grant funding and access to long-term commercial capital. Social investment, provided by investors seeking to generate artistic, social and financial returns, could provide capital in this area to ensure that growth can be realised. 

Elizabeth Hunt