Cultural Investment Fund

Financial support for creatives and cultural organisations, who want to create cultural initiatives, test new ideas and develop concepts


The Cultural Investment Fund is designed to seed fund cultural initiatives through an open call, grant making process.

Now in its second year, the fund is not simply about commissioning artwork, but instead looks to fund time and opportunity for testing new ideas and developing concepts that will help improve and advance the creative and cultural sector.

We value the process as much as the output and so this funding gives time to think, test, research and pilot. The fund is built on the principle that if we want a different future we need to invest and work differently.

The fund is not a project grant or an art commission, but rather a research and development fund designed to support the testing and development phase of initiatives, that will lead to recommendations and shared learning.

Applications for the 2021/22 Cultural Investment Fund have now closed. We will soon announce successful proposals.

We are still working on the selection process, and apologise there’s been a delay on the announcement due in October 4th. You can follow our social channels to hear about the selected list at first hand, as soon as we have it.








In 2020 the National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) in Plymouth came together to create a Cultural Investment Fund, pooling existing resources to kickstart the initiative. The fund was an acknowledgement that as a result of the pandemic funds would necessary be focused on survival rather than development, exploration and risk taking. Collectively we wanted to ensure the sector and city was able to look forward and respond to an ever changing world.

The pandemic has highlighted many structural and societal issues that have long existed but have been amplified. It has become increasingly evident that change is needed and that we must challenge what we do and how we do it if we are to build a just, greener, sustainable future.

We know that the skills, knowledge and motivation for such change does not solely reside within the NPOs and so wanted to create a fund that developed a genuinely collaborative approach to problem solving, gave space to other voices and afforded us time to test new concepts. We believe this way of working is the only way to work moving forward and so the fund tests an approach across the partnership as well as tests ideas at the project level.

The first round of funding supported five initiatives and a strategic development conversation with networks. This has proved highly successful, with all participants benefiting personally and professionally from the fund. As such, the NPOs have committed to fund a further round in 2021/22. We have taken lessons from the first round and made some subtle but important changes to this round to further enhance the fund’s impact.   


  1. To seed fund initiatives that reimagine how we work as a sector and city    
  2. To create a sustainable mechanism for cultural investment
  3. To support organisations and individuals to innovate out of crisis
  4. To create an approach to developing, amplifying and adopting new ways of working

What are we looking to fund?

We see the Cultural Investment Fund as an integral part of helping to develop and deliver the city’s Culture Plan. As such we have drawn on the core objectives set out in the plan to identify a theme for the 2021/22 funding round. The theme is TOGETHERNESS and links to the plan’s key drivers 1) Community 2) Environment and 3) Inclusive Economy as well as the ambition – we will embed equality at every level of the sector to actively support diversity of voice and celebrate the creativity in everyone.

You will need to demonstrate how your proposal responds to this theme and is aligned with the Culture Plan. We are looking to fund research and development or pilot/testing phases of work rather than full or finished projects. Whilst we are not looking to fund pre-defined deliverables we are looking for proposals that will provide shared learning opportunities which can be shared, scaled and embedded across the NPOs and wider creative and cultural sector in order to influence the way we work in the future.   

The fund can support a wide range of activities including but not exclusively:

  • Research and development
  • Pilot phases
  • Research or test workshops
  • Information gathering sessions
  • Audience engagement and testing activity
  • Building prototypes
  • Developing toolkits and frameworks 
  • Investigating ideas and concepts
  • Building and collaborating with partnerships
  • Beta versions of apps and digital platforms

How much money is available?

A total of £42,500 is available through the Cultural Investment Fund. You may request a maximum of £10,000.


14 July Development Workshop

19 July Call opens

11th August Webinar with Q&A

06 September Call closes, submission deadline

01 October Final Shortlisting and panel discussions

04 October Decisions communicated

October/21 – March/22 Projects development/delivery


This year we are offering a development workshop to individuals, organisations and collectives who are considering submitting a proposal. The workshop should be considered a standalone opportunity and not directly related to or dependent on the funding outcome. For example:

  • You may attend the workshop and decide not to submit a proposal
  • You may attend the workshop and submit a proposal that is the same or different to your original idea
  • You may not attend the workshop and still submit a proposal

Attendance at the workshop is not compulsory and does not guarantee funding. Instead we hope it is an opportunity to have a facilitated workshop that helps you explore the principles of developing an innovative and impactful project which can help you to interrogate your ideas and build on them.

The workshop will take place at Ocean Studios – Royal William Yard, on Wednesday, 14 July from 10am-5pm, and is free but has limited places.

The workshop has now taken place, thank you to those who attended.

We will also run an information webinar to present and explain the fund allowing time for a question and answer session.

The webinar will be hosted on Zoom on August 11, 2pm-3.30pm.

This is not compulsory and attendance will not influence the funding decision. The webinar will be recorded and posted online.

This webinar has now taken place and a recorded version is below:

Each selected initiative will be assigned an NPO lead. This lead will be your main point of contact and will provide a mentoring function throughout the life of the project. They will act as a critical friend, help to monitor progress and broker connections with other people and organisations across the city. We will also facilitate regular action learning sets with the funded initiatives to create a peer support network that can help you and your project evolve and problem solve.



Togetherness is a broad theme that links inclusivity with diversity and in turn to a sense of belonging thus bringing people, organisations and communities together. Now more than ever, we need to come together in communities and in partnerships to help address the inequalities we see in the sector and society. A sense of togetherness is about building genuinely inclusive and diverse sector.

Research & Development

The idea of starting with a theory, question, line of enquiry of concept that you investigate and interrogate through research and phased development. This is normally the first phase of building an idea into a reality and may involve desk research, interviews, workshops, prototypes, feedback and other ways of testing and idea. 

Shared Learning

Findings and recommendations that come out of the funded proposal which can be applied to other organisations and initiatives. These may be thematically based and can be disseminated in different ways.

Seed funding

This is initial funding that enables the first phase of a proposal to take place. It does not necessarily fund the full project but is a key component in catalysing work on the initiative.

Creative Industries

For the purposes of this fund we will apply the definition set out in the Culture Plan which takes the DCMS definition of the creative industries to include publishing, computer games, software publishing, computer programming, computer consultancy activities, Film, TV, music, radio, Heritage, retail of music and video recordings, manufacture of musical instruments, reproduction of recorded media, Heritage, Arts, museum activities. It excludes sport, gambling and telecoms.


The reason we are calling it an investment is because we are prepared to take some risks, in that we will be buying into a cultural initiative rather than a guaranteed artistic output. It is an investment because we are also looking for long term, scalable impact.