The Arts Impact Fund was conceived by Investing for Good in conjunction with Arts Council England, the UK Cabinet Office and Ashurst LLP. It is the first unsecured loan fund of its kind in the world that explicitly takes into account not just financial returns but also the artistic and social impact of the organisations it supports.
Arts funders and other stakeholders, including Nesta, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch came together to explore how social investment could be used to bolster sustainability and resilience in an increasingly constrained arts funding environment. Ever greater competition for depleted grant pots has acted as a driver to look at alternative, innovative models for investment in the sector. The opportunity aligned with the desire to prove the concept of uniting (or ‘co-mingling’) public, private and philanthropic capital into a single funding vehicle in order to generate synergies and boost overall impact on a pound-for-pound basis. There was also interest in whether new metrics could be developed to quantify the impacts of art related investments in ways that would attract social investors.
Over £3 million from the £7 million Arts Impact Fund has been successfully deployed to date, with demand continuing to grow. So far nearly 100 cultural organisations have expressed interest in receiving support from the fund. Investing for Good is actively looking to replicate the model and its templatable legal documentation in other sectors.