Upstart Co-Lab is a nonprofit that has partnered with the Calvert Foundation and Artspace Projects to facilitate impact investments that support artists. Upstart Co-Lab is a startup itself, launching earlier this year. The Calvert Foundation is a leader in impact investing, making such investments accessible to ordinary investors--not just the wealthy. Artspace, also a nonprofit, develops live/work projects for artists around the country. While not seeking to invest directly in works of art, the new partnership is intended to fund businesses that artists often own, being social entrepreneurs by nature.
Laura Callanan, Founding Partner of Upstart Co-Lab, says, art is a big part of the economy but not enough investment is being made there. "The creative economy is more than 4 percent of the US GDP. But JP Morgan and the GIIN report that art and culture are 0% of impact investing. There are currently no tools, funds or manager strategies enabling impact investors to align their capital with the creative sector."
Callanan makes the case that artists are entrepreneurs who need access to the right kind of capital. "Artists are social entrepreneurs and innovators. They are starting B Corporations and other social purpose businesses. But they are not always recognized as the innovators they are. That means they don't have easy access to patient and flexible impact capital to bring their ideas to scale. And it is challenging to build a sustainable creative life."
Kelley Lindquist, President of Artspace, focuses on place. "The problem is that artists across America, and really across the world, consistently lack safe, affordable space in which to live and work. Artists are often low income and as the cost of housing increases, particularly in cities where artists live, they are increasingly priced out, leaving them with with two main unacceptable choices: to leave their homes and/or work space, often forcing the abandonment of their livelihood; or resort to living or working in spaces that are affordable but unsafe." These inadequate options can lead to tragedy, he adds. "We have recently--in Oakland--seen the dangers of this second path."
Callanan explains what Upstart Co-Lab is now doing. "Upstart Co-Lab is looking to unleash more capital for creativity. We are exploring with strategic partners like Calvert Foundation, B Lab and Veris Wealth Partners how to adapt existing impact investment products, tools and approaches." She see creativity as a drive of sustainability. Continue on Forbes.com