Future Yard named as one of first funding recipients from £23m Arts and Culture Fund

Future Yard CIC, a community music venue looking to utilise music to create dynamic social change, is one of five organisations selected for investment by the Arts & Culture Impact Fund, the world’s largest impact investment fund for the creative arts from Arts & Culture Finance by Nesta.

Future Yard has received a loan of £292,500 in the first round of investments,worth £1.2m, and Arts & Culture Finance is calling for more organisations across Liverpool City Region to come forward as the whole sector looks to rebuild after COVID-19.

The £23 million investment fund was set up a year ago by Nesta’s Arts & Culture Finance team to offer loans of between £150,000 and £1 million to help organisations in the arts, cultural and heritage sectors build financial resilience and support their communities. According to Arts & Culture Finance, as the creative industries rebuild and recover from the devastation of COVID-19, social investment – a form of repayable finance to achieve social outcomes – promises to be a crucial part of the solution.

Social enterprise Future Yard will use the loan to bring Birkenhead its first dedicated live music venue for a decade. Building on the success of their two-day music festival in August 2019, Future Yard will use the space as a venue to showcase new music talent and as a skills hub to provide artist development support and mentoring for up and coming young artists to pursue careers in the industry. Future Yard will work with local partners such as mental health charity Open Door Centre to reach vulnerable young people with limited access to opportunities.

Future Yard joins four other organisations receiving loans to help them build sustainable business models, innovate and expand their programmes. The loans will also play an important role in helping to sustain the organisations through earned income, allowing them to invest in supporting their local communities. Plans range from support for early-career artists to training and mentoring for vulnerable young adults.

Open to a broad range of organisations, Arts & Culture Finance is urging other organisations in the arts, cultural and heritage sectors to follow in the first investees’ footsteps and use the fund to access more flexible finance.

Commenting on the loan, Craig Pennington, Future Yard co-founder  said: “The last twelve months have been hugely challenging for organisations such as ours – and society more broadly – but we believe the experience of COVID-19 has shown how powerful communities can be. We want to provide a dynamic new space for people to come together, enjoy some of the best new music in the world, support emerging artists and provide new opportunities for local young people.

People who love music have acutely realised how important it is to them over the past year, how much of a role it plays in their lives. We’re committed to creating a new venue to champion and support new music in Birkenhead. This support from Arts & Culture Finance has enabled us to buy our building on Argyle Street, bringing it into community ownership. This has ensured permanence for Future Yard CIC and enables us to create long-term, sustained impact.

We just cannot wait now to open our doors and welcome people into our new home. The Future Is Birkenhead.” 

Nesta’s Director of Arts & Culture Programmes and Investments, Francesca Sanderson said, “The arts and culture sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. As our funding has grown, we welcome more applicants from Birkenhead, Liverpool City Region and across the UK, especially during this difficult time. With evidence showing that impact investment can help organisations build resilience, this model of financing will be more important than ever. It’s time more organisations in the sector realised how they could benefit from it”. 

The Arts & Culture Impact Fund is open for applications until summer 2023. To find out more about how to apply, interested organisations should go to: www.artsculturefinance.org.

Main image: Pixey one of the artists to have live-streamed from Future Yard during lockdown.

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