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Press Release

“I very much hope that this collection of essays will stimulate new thinking about how we fund creativity and, in particular, the role that impact investment can play in helping our cultural institutions and our broader creative economy expand their influence and reach.”
Sir Ronald Cohen – Chair, Global Steering Group for Impact Investment 

“Culture and creative work are having a positive impact on the most serious issues facing our society, and they’re doing so right now.”
Yo-Yo Ma – Cellist


To kick-off a year-long conversation in 2021, the United Nations International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, Upstart Co-Lab, Nesta’s Arts & Culture Finance and Fundación Compromiso have partnered to bring attention to the potential for impact investing in the global creative economy with a new report titled, Creativity, Culture & Capital: Impact investing in the global creative economy.

With a Foreword by Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, and an Afterword by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Creativity, Culture & Capital illustrates how the creative sector delivers social and environmental impact, and how impact funds are already investing in the creative industries in support of a more just and sustainable global creative economy.

44 experts from 17 countries have contributed essays along two themes: Creativity at Work, which illustrates how the creative economy is addressing key issues of inclusion and sustainability, and Connecting Impact Capital, which describes a range of efforts to finance creative activity in alignment with values. 

The Creativity, Culture & Capital website,, will serve as a living resource and community platform; new written contributions will be added throughout the year.

Opportunity and Impact

The creative industries make a substantial contribution to the global economy. According to UNESCO, the creative economy will represent 10 percent of global GDP in the years to come.

Global creative industries formally employed 29.5 million people worldwide in 2013, the latest year for which UNESCO has commissioned research. In emerging markets, the artisan economy is a major driver of informal jobs for an estimated 300 million people and is projected to reach a global valuation of $985 billion by 2023. 

Culture and creativity are critical to a sustainable and inclusive future. The innovative artists and cultural entrepreneurs featured in this report demonstrate the powerful and positive potential of the creative economy — from the artisan craft sector and the role of culture in placemaking; to the opportunities for digital technologies to broaden and democratize access to great art.

Seasoned impact investors are already putting impact capital to work in Ethical Fashion, Sustainable Food and Social Impact Media to achieve impact goals such as environmental conservation, gender and racial equity, and access to economic opportunity. As demonstrated in this report, impact funds are already investing in the creative industries of Africa, Europe, North America, and South America in support of a more just and sustainable global creative economy. 


The examples and perspectives captured in Creativity, Culture & Capital are intended to inspire global policymakers, fund managers and wealth advisers, institutional and individual investors, and philanthropic funders of the global ecosystem for impact investing to prioritize the creative economy. This report is a call to action to art patrons and collectors, commercial and charitable creative organizations, and leading artists and designers regarding a new opportunity to attract financial resources to meaningful endeavors in art, design, culture, heritage and creativity.

While the creative sector has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is evidence that creativity and culture will play a vital role in an inclusive and sustainable recovery fueled by conscious capital. 

Upstart Co-Lab is grateful to our partners: