By setting up a Cultural Investment Fund, Plymouth’s arts organisations are aiming to ‘innovate’ their way out of the crisis.
Plymouth’s National Portfolio Organisations are pooling resources to create seed funding for new cultural initiatives that will “reimagine the future” of the city and help bring about long-term change.
By kickstarting a Cultural Investment Fund they aim to give creative individuals and organisations the chance to test new ideas and develop new concepts that could have radical effects on the city as it emerges from the pandemic.
The £42,000 starter fund is being supported by the Real Ideas Organisation, The Box, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, KARST, Take a Part, Literature Works and Plymouth Culture.
Of these, the sector support organisations and highest funded ‘Band 3’ NPOs have each contributed £10,000, while the band 1 or 2 organisations contributed £500 each. As they start to draw up new business plans they will be aiming to make annual contributions to the fund and to bring in other investment partners.
The fund is being managed by Plymouth Culture, which is responsible for the development of the cultural sector in the city. CEO Hannah Harris said: “We see the Cultural Investment Fund not only as a response to Covid, but as an integral part of developing the city’s Cultural Strategy.”
Grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 are available only to applicants based in the South West who have a strong, working link with Plymouth, and they can only be used to “test, prototype and research ideas”. Existing projects are eligible if they scale up, roll out, attract new audiences or channel through new platforms, but only if they address the challenges facing the city.
Harris continued: “We want the strategy to be visionary and to challenge current norms to create a better future. To do this we know we need to do things differently and this fund is a first step in changing how we work in partnership and how we support the cultural ecology of the city… We are hoping to work with organisations and individuals that challenge our thinking and innovate our way out of crisis.”
The NPOs see the new fund as part of their remit to support the wider cultural ecology in the city. Kim Wide, CEO and Artistic Director of Take a Part, explained: “This programme is about shifting our energies away from singular and isolated approaches towards collective ambitions, directions and strategies. The programme is significant in that it brings energy together and looks beyond a recovery approach to one of systemic change and long-term ambition.”
Donna Howard, Executive Director of KARST commented on collective and partnership working: “[It] gives us an opportunity to really explore what the NPO network looks like and can do, not just now during a crisis, but in the medium and long term”; and Laura Kriefman, CEO of Barbican Theatre Plymouth, said: “… we must support the wider ecology and mustn't presume we have all the answers... We want practitioners and creatives to feel supported to develop their voice in this new landscape and allow them to find new ways of working.”