Part-grant, part-loan funding backed by the DCMS will be available to creative organisations across the north of England. 

Photo of Kirkgate Art hostel
East Street Arts’ Kirkgate Art Hostel

East Street Arts

Arts organisations and creative businesses across the north of England are now eligible to bid for investment from the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, a funding stream introduced by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the legacy of last summer’s Great Exhibition of the North.

The £15m Fund was launched by the Government in 2017, and the first £11.3m was awarded to major capital projects in Bradford, Blackpool and the Lake District. 

Of the remaining £3.7m, £3.2m has now been earmarked to support smaller projects that can demonstrate “meaningful social impact” in their local communities. The remaining £500k was spent on the closing ceremony for the Great Exhibition of the North.

Blended investments

Awards from the fund will be in the form of “blended investments” comprising loans and grants worth up to £150,000. Up to one-third of each award can be in the form of a grant, and the funding can be used to help with working capital, the purchase of equipment, or the refurbishment or purchase of a building or land.

Working capital loans will be repayable within 5 years, with interest at 4.2%, and capital loans will normally be repayable within 10 years, with interest at 3.5%.

The fund will be available to organisations in twelve Local Enterprise Partnership regions across the north of England. It will run for two years and is open to creative and cultural community and social enterprise organisations. Small or medium-size commercial businesses that can demonstrate positive social outcomes can also apply. 

The cash will be distributed by The Key Fund, a Sheffield-based provider of flexible investment that supports social enterprises with the potential to create new jobs and re-invigorate communities, but which have traditionally been unable to access bank loans.  

Previous arts projects supported with Key Fund investment include loan finance of £110,000 to East Street Arts in 2015, to renovate a building in a deprived part of Leeds for use as a residential Art Hostel and creative hub

Matt Smith, Chief Executive of Key Fund, said: “We are incredibly excited about the potential of the fund to support creative and cultural activity, whilst also helping to increase social impact in disadvantaged communities across the North.”

Liz Hill