A coalition of artists, impact investors, foundations, and social innovators has announced the launch of a new organization dedicated to connecting artists and social entrepreneurs.
With funding from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Ford, Rockefeller, Mellon, and Surdna foundations, and in-kind support from the F.B. Heron Foundation, Upstart Co-Lab will work to connect artists with impact investing and social entrepreneurship opportunities and social innovators with the storytelling, improvisation, and creative intelligence of artists. Among other things, the organization aims to increase opportunities for artists as innovators, starting with a greater recognition of artists' accomplishments in the private, social, and public sectors; catalyze more capital for creativity by making creativity investable through public equity, debt, and venture capital investment products; and contribute to the sustainability of creative lives by equipping artists with the skills needed to execute their ideas and linking eligible artists to existing social services and subsidies. The organization already has five projects under development, which it hopes to implement by the end of 2016.
"Artists are the original social entrepreneurs. They make our society stronger because of who they are, how they approach the world, and the risks they are willing to take," said Laura Callanan, Upstart Co-Lab founding partner and former senior deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "But because other social changemakers don't realize what artists are doing, artist-innovators often have to go it alone. By creating this national collaboration between artists, impact investors, sustainable companies, and other partners, we can fix this. Once we do, the impact will be unstoppable."