Launching a new report from Nesta’s Arts & Culture Finance, Fundación Compromiso and Upstart Co-Lab shines spotlight on a global creative economy responding to Covid

Creativity, Culture and Capital volume 2 published 13 September at, in English and Spanish

Image: Ranwas School project, Vanuatu Photo credit: CAUKIN Studio

  • Collection of 39 essays from diverse international voices illustrates the need and opportunity for impact investment in the global creative economy
  • Marks United Nations’ International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development with contributions from Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, UK, US, and more  
  • Covering fashion, video games, food, art, music and beyond, the report offers inspiration and concrete examples of how creativity and culture can help build back better from the global Covid pandemic
  • Makes case for a new global impact investment fund for the inclusive creative economy
  • Nesta opens call for essay submissions to Creativity, Culture and Capital volume 3 and announces micro-commissions investigating the future of live performance

Nesta’s Arts & Culture Finance, a division of the UK-based innovation foundation; US-based impact investment field-builder Upstart Co-Lab and LatAm-based social innovation incubator Fundación Compromiso announce the publication of the second volume of Creativity, Culture and Capital: Impact Investing in the global creative economy (CCC). 

CCC is focused on developing a just, sustainable and profitable global creative economy through impact investment. US$31 trillion in impact capital is currently at work globally, reflecting how many investors are considering the way their decisions affect people and the planet as well as their own bottom line. While the last 20 years of growth in impact investing has been extraordinary, the creative industries and cultural sector have not yet fully benefited from the promise of these resources.

Including case studies and personal essays, CCC makes the argument for a much larger proportion of this capital to flow towards the creative economy, building the case for a new global impact investment fund for the inclusive creative economy. Taken together, the essays offer what Darren Walker (President, Ford Foundation) describes in his Foreword as a “blueprint for recovery” post-pandemic – an incredible opportunity to rebalance the global economy after the shock of Covid.

Report includes:

  • Culture: The key to the transformation of Medellín – how sustained investment in social interventions helped the city reduce its murder rate by more than 95% (Colombia)
  • Paskho Community-MadeTM: Driving a regenerative economy – turning outsourcing for fashion on its head, and engaging world-famous creative community Gee’s Bend in the journey (US) 
  • Paying for creativity – how renting works of art could change the world (UK)
  • Unlocking creative economy opportunity by investing in women – why the gender focus of an investment fund traced a natural path to the creative economy (West Africa)
  • Sharing the orange bond with the world – how remaking financial instruments can power creative growth (LatAm) 
  • Systematic creativity: Everything you can imagine is real – what jazz can teach us about rethinking capitalism (US) 
  • The Parthenon of Forbidden Books – artist Marta Minujín writes the Afterword for the collection: “May artistic expression continue to be the manifestation that moves desire, the poetry that brings us together and the emotion that allows us to dream of a better future. Because art can save the world!” (Argentina)

One of the most rapidly expanding sectors, the creative economy – comprising industries like fashion, film, music and design – is predicted to be
10 percent of the world economy in the next few years.  This growth positions the creative economy as potentially transformative in terms of income generation and as a source of quality jobs. Seemingly purpose-built for the most enthusiastic and quickest-growing segments of impact investors who are the next generation and women, the creative economy employs more people aged 15−29 than any other sector – and 285 million creative economy workers are women

As John Howkins, father of the creative economy, notes in his contribution to the report: “In the same way that managing the Covid pandemic requires more than epidemiology, so understanding the creative economy requires more than conventional economics.”  CCC is designed as that unconventional resource, diverse in geography, sector and experience. It showcases a variety of efforts delivering positive impacts through creativity and culture and the innovative ways in which value-aligned capital is used to fund these. The essays within the collection explore two broad themes: Creativity at Work, which shows how art, design, culture, heritage and creativity are benefiting people, communities and the planet; and Connecting Impact Capital, which illustrates how impact investment is already transforming and stimulating creative economic activity delivering financial returns as well as social and environmental impact. 

Submissions to the next volume are invited from international creators and investors to have their say; CCC volume 3 will take the number of essays to over 100. Deadline for submissions is 1 November; for more details on how to submit visit

The website, along with a series of events delivered in conjunction with partners such as United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), SOCAP and the trailblazing DICE programme from the BritishCouncil, are building a community to help instigate continued growth in the sector. To find out more about events supporting the report, sign up for the mailing list at

Marking the release of the report, Nesta is launching a new open call for micro commissions. The 48 Hour Creative Response Challenge asks creatives to watch and respond to the pioneering Dream, created by a consortium led by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of UKRI’s Audience of the Future Demonstrator Programme. Successful proposers will be directly commissioned by Nesta to spend 48 hours developing a creative response that demonstrates how the concepts developed for Dream might inform their own practice, with a £500 bursary. Connecting with CCC’s focus on new finance and business models within the creative economy, the aim is that the open call will move forward the discussion on the future of live performance, collaborative funding models and alternative ways of working. Find out more and apply here

Fran Sanderson, Director, Arts & Culture Investments and Programmes, Nesta, comments:

“We passionately believe in the power of the creative economy to effect lasting positive social change, and in the huge opportunity for impact investment to support and amplify this change. The sector has achieved amazing things without a genuine global support structure, so we’re really excited to see where a more intentional effort could take this movement. With the launch of the second essay collection we’re highlighting the power of creativity to drive placemaking, and the initiatives taking place in huge industries such as food and fashion. We’re also excited to be launching more multimedia and interactive content with the Spotlight series, which will feature deep dives and start to build communities of interest around particular challenges that can be faced better together.”

Laura Callanan, Founding Partner, Upstart Co-Lab, comments:

“The creative economy has the capacity to intrigue, engage, educate and activate more mindful consumers so that the benefits of ethical and sustainable supply chains and the full power of media to drive positive change can be realised. Those who care about shaping a creative economy that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable will find numerous opportunities to deploy their values-aligned capital as the world rebuilds after the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Carolina Biquard, Executive Director, Fundacion Compromiso, comments:

“Creativity is the new normal. It is the answer to facing the present and approaching the future. Arts and Culture has always been the human answer to find ways for civilization to evolve. Creativity is the way to connect our inspirations and cultural assets with the practical and economic sides of our lives. Especially our youngsters will need to learn to live in a Creative Economy, in a Creative System. We hope to help design the financial structure that this approach needs.”



Arts & Culture Finance support arts and cultural organisations that benefit the lives of individuals, communities and society through their work and use our investments to help organisations to become more sustainable and resilient. Arts & Culture Finance sits within Nesta’s Investments directorate and contributes to the organisation’s wider work in the Creative Economy. We manage several social impact investment funds aimed at organisations in the arts and cultural sector on behalf of our funding partners. We believe that arts and culture play an essential role in our everyday lives, in the forging and understanding of our identity and in growing the UK’s economy. They inspire, challenge and educate us. 



Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We work with partners around the globe to bring bold ideas to life to change the world for good.



Upstart Co-Lab connects impact investing to the creative economy. Since 2016, Upstart has been exploring how the $920 billion creative economy in the U.S. can become more inclusive, equitable and sustainable. By introducing a Creativity Lens, Upstart Co-Lab helps impact investors who understand the power of art, design, culture, heritage, and creativity see the opportunities that align with their values. Upstart Co-Lab is a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. 



Fundación Compromiso has developed and spread in the 1990s a new model of supporting and investing effectively in social, environmental and cultural issues throughout LATAM civil society organisations, private enterprises and public institutions. Inspired by Peter Drucker´s work and philosophy on how to manage knowledge produced by organisations to make social change happen in all sectors, Fundación Compromiso has been helping organisations understand what they do, who they serve, how they do it, focusing in what they value, and their impact in doing so. Now FC is guiding impact investors in the region to understand their opportunities on arts, creativity, environmental and social issues and bringing all kinds of partners from around the world, from grassroots to innovation foundations, to make social change happen. 



In 2019 at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, 2021 was declared the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. Indonesia was the main sponsor of the proposal, which was presented by a global grouping of countries, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines and Thailand. The proposal recognised the need to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, foster innovation and provide opportunities, benefits and empowerment for all and respect for all human rights. It also identified the ongoing need to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition in diversifying production and exports, including in new sustainable growth areas, including creative industries. It encourages all to observe the year in accordance with national priorities to raise awareness, promote cooperation and networking, encourage sharing best practices and experiences, enhance human resource capacity, promote an enabling environment at all levels as well as tackle the challenges of the creative economy.