Boost for arts organisations as new business support project kicks off 

A new £400k initiative led by Creative United and supported by Coventry University’s Centre for Business in Society (CBiS) will provide free business advice to culture and arts organisations, companies and entrepreneurs around the UK.

The Arts Council England-funded ‘Prosper’ programme aims to support around 70 organisations in the arts, museum and library sectors by offering one-to-one guidance, masterclasses and webinars in a bid to boost cultural organisations’ abilities to attract new investment and audiences.

A launch event at Coventry University’s Technology Park today (Monday 3 April) is providing businesses in the city and surrounding area an opportunity to learn more about the programme before applying. As part of the initiative, academics in the university’s Centre for Business in Society are also carrying out a wider investigation into the current provision of, and demand for, business support for arts and cultural organisations in England and Scotland. The centre’s research – which will make recommendations on future investment and business support programmes – will be made available via the Arts Marketing Association’s online hub, CultureHive.co.uk, alongside a series of resources such as blogs and toolkits which are designed to further support the creative sectors.

Additional funding for the programme is provided by Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, and Creative Scotland (for research activities in Scotland).

Dr Nick Henry, co-director of the Centre for Business in Society, said: “The creative and cultural industries are worth well over £80 billion a year to the UK economy, and they represent a major growth sector for the country. Here in Coventry and Warwickshire, for example, the impact and draw of sites like the Herbert Art Gallery, the Shakespeare properties in Stratford and the ‘Silicon Spa’ gaming cluster in Leamington bring a real boost to regional prosperity and quality of life. We’re delighted to be a part of the Prosper programme and to be supporting an initiative aimed at safeguarding and expanding the economic and social contribution of this vital sector.”

Mary-Alice Stack, CEO at Creative United, said: “Leading on from our successes and learning from the Creative Industry Finance programme, Prosper signals another way that we can drive the growth and development of our cultural and creative sectors, and build a sustainable and resilient creative economy. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Centre for Business in Society and the Arts Marketing Association to deliver this programme, and look forward to revealing new insights into the provision and benefits of business support for the arts, museums and libraries.”

Jane Tarr, director of organisational resilience and environmental sustainability at Arts Council England, said: “Through the programme, we wanted to understand more about the business support our sector needs nationally and to share information about the existing offer more widely. We’re delighted Prosper will be working across the country over the next year with a wide range of cultural organisations. It’s an exciting partnership and will also help us develop future support for creative businesses of all sizes to keep growing.”

Those interested in finding out more about the programme, how to apply, or to register to attend a briefing event, should visit www.creativeunited.org.uk/programme/prosper.

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