Arts Business Innovation Fund launched by CEA and partner organisations

A Consortium comprising Foresters Community Finance (Foresters), Positive Solutions and QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) is working with Arts Queensland to lead the way with a new arts fund that mixes public and private investment. The Fund seeks to assist arts organisations in Queensland in pursuit of innovative business initiatives that present opportunities for long-term sustainability.

Arts Minister Ian Walker said the Arts Business Innovation Fund (ABIF) was a first in Australia and an important step to a new approach to funding arts.

“It will provide a $1 million investment in 2014-2015, with $500,000 provided by each of the Queensland Government and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, for not-for-profit arts and cultural organisations.

“What makes this fund unique and innovative is that business and government are joining forces to help arts bodies navigate the challenging path towards a more sustainable financial future. It is not aimed at developing new creative works but instead it is aimed at strengthening arts organisations’ financial and business operations,” Mr Walker said.

“This fund also exemplifies this government’s commitment to encourage partnerships which help develop sustainability within the Queensland arts sector supporting organisations to finance their own growth.”

ABIF is the first fund of its kind in Australia. This innovative funding package will provide a grant and no interest loan component, while also requiring applicants to match the funding package with their own capital or by securing other sources of support. For arts organisations, it provides an opportunity to explore alternative capital sources to complement others, as well capital for initiatives that would not otherwise be funded.

The Consortium compromises of key organisations who have combined sector strengths and knowledge to develop this innovative approach to the arts sector which delivers significant public value to Queensland. The Consortium has worked closely with arts organisations and creative industries companies around Australia supporting the demand for diverse, yet sustainable financial solutions. Foresters CEO, Sandra Nugent, believes the fund will give arts organisations the opportunity to plan for the future.

“In recent years we have witnessed a high demand for alternative sources of capital in the sector. With the right mix of capital, arts organisations are better equipped to pursue their long-term sustainability. This innovative fund provides fertile ground for this opportunity, and a step towards the future proofing for arts organisations,” Ms Nugent said.

In response to the Queensland Government’s priority to grow non-government income for arts organisations , the Consortium will seek to develop partnerships with philanthropic foundations and providers of finance to assist organisations in finding the right funding match. All capital will be re-invested to increase the funding pool, and the future of the initiative.

Cathy Hunt, Director of Positive Solutions, and an established advocate for the Australian arts sector said the partnership will give the arts sector a much needed financial boost.

“We have been working for the last three years to develop a new models, new money framework and philosophy to support alternative investment sources in arts sector. The partnership with Arts Queensland enables us to boost financial resilience in the arts sector in Queensland to build greater business capability,” Ms Hunt said.

Anna Rooke, CEO of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia – Australia’s only dedicated business incubator and investor in the creative industries, said the initiative will enable the creative industries to grow and develop.

“Early stage investment is the number one barrier to innovation in Australia for the creative industries. The sector can be seen to be ‘too risky’ by banks and traditional investors and it’s our belief at CEA that this is fundamental market failure in Australia. CEA opened Australia’s first Creative Enterprise Fund, another first for Queensland, targeting for profit early stage investment. The Arts Business Innovation Fund is a great complementary investment initiative targeting the not-for-profit sector in Queensland which enables a whole of sector approach to arts and creative industries,” Ms Rooke said.

Arts organisations who are wishing to apply can find out further details here: Arts Business Innovation Fund

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