Why today marks a pivot point for heritage

Why today marks a pivot point for heritage

Rene Olivieri
How the new Arts and Culture Impact Fund could help us grow the heritage sector – and reach those excluded from it.

Today, we have announced our part in the Arts & Culture Impact Fund, the world’s largest impact investment fund for heritage, arts and culture organisations in the UK.

I find investing in this fund particularly exciting for several reasons.

First, it directly supports many of the key themes of our strategy. We want to help organisations that use heritage to:

  • deliver a social mission
  • improve diversity and tackle under-representation
  • support those who are driving sustainability through their approach

Second, it is the way the fund brings together public, private and philanthropic investors, including Nesta, Arts Council England, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Big Society Capital and Bank of America.

It’s not just that the combination of resources will make new things happen; it’s that each of these players brings different expertise and models to the table. By working together, learning from each other, we are going to improve our investment models for the future.

Third, the flexibility of making loans and in setting the terms for repayment mean we are maximising our opportunities for discovering new ways of investing, for finding out what works.

And finally, working closely with Nesta means that we will ensure we are rigorously analysing the reasons for our successes and failures. If we pay close attention, we will learn as much from what doesn’t work as from what does.  

"Can we grow the size and resilience of the heritage sector and make it do more for and mean more to those currently most excluded?"

And of course, this may be only the beginning. If the Fund works, how will we scale it to the next level? Can we grow the size and resilience of the heritage sector and make it do more for and mean more to those currently most excluded?

Using market forces for good

So, today must be a pivot point for us in the sector. We are starting to reinvent ourselves as heritage investors and entrepreneurs. We want to use market forces for good and make them work better for everyone. 

Two years ago we reviewed the heritage organisations we had supported over a three-year period. We found that two-thirds of them recognised they had untapped income-generating potential, and a very small number, only 10%, had no potential for income generation at all. 

Today we begin to unleash some of that potential.

Our investments

As part of our Strategic Funding Framework 2019-2024, we have committed to widening our remit to include social investment. We're also investing in new funding for enterprise and business skills training.



René was speaking at the launch of the Arts and Culture Impact Fund, 4 March 2020.

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