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::: Roundtable Discussion on Arts Impact Investment :::

Zürich, Switzerland

The Arts Investment Forum held a high-level roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities of impact investing for the arts sector at the premises of the Swiss Arts Council pro helvetia in Zürich, Switzerland. Participants, including representatives of national arts councils, banks and private foundations, decided on the following working definition of arts impact investment: “Arts impact investments are investments made into arts and cultural enterprises with the intention of generating measurable cultural and wider social impact alongside a financial return.”

Among the general sector-specific challenges identified were:

  • Lack of know-how = need for capacity-building to increase business acumen and investment readiness of micro-cultural enterprises as well as on the side of investors and financial intermediaries (sector-specific key indicators)

  • Suspicion of the sector = reluctance to invest due to perceived high risk (“fluffy”) and lack of collateral

  • Artists’ sense of entitlement (grants) and right to ‘fail and experiment’

  • Legal and fiscal environments in some countries, e.g. difficulty in investing in non-profits

  • Measurement = for both cultural and social impact, starting with understanding and “valuing” – e.g. what is the relationship between artistic outputs and non-artistic outputs and what role does artistic quality play in defining key indicators of blended value investments

  • Lack of investment, in particular also philanthropic funding, to help early-stage (idea-stage) enterprises

Suggestions to help advance the field of arts impact investing included:

  • Information sharing: tool box, case studies, success stories, ideas (e.g. measurement instruments)

  • Learning network: e.g. create a closed-door learning space – sharing failures and evidence, experiences and hear about new approaches

  • Sensibilization and advocacy: for instance through reaching out to existing networks to distribute a Manifesto on arts impact investment, for which target audience would be both investors (with particular focus on private investors) and investees

  • Hold follow-up meetings to also look at wider scope of issues relevant to strengthening the field of private investment in the arts