Annual Impact

Each year Creative United shares the impact we have on the sector and creative businesses.

You can download a PDF of the most recent impact report here or read a summary below.


Executive Summary

During the past year, our work as a community interest company has increasingly focused on what it means to provide services, opportunities and experiences that are truly inclusive and accessible for all.

But what does ‘inclusive and accessible’ really mean, and why does it matter?
Creative United’s mission is to support the growth and development of the arts and creative industries.

However, in the long term, unlocking the true potential of the sector is going to be dependent on our ability to make investing in the arts, culture and creativity meaningful and valuable to a broader and more diverse cross section of society.

I use the word ‘investing’ in the broadest sense.

Investment comes in many forms, but most important of all is the personal investment that an individual makes when they recognise and share the value that they place on having the arts, culture and creativity as part of their lives.

At a time of political and social division, where entrenched positions may make it difficult for us to connect with those on the other side of the divide, it has never been more important to celebrate the role of artists and their unique ability to capture, challenge, provoke and reflect: to create and share the media through which we can all gain a sense of time, place and purpose.

Access and inclusion in the arts starts with building communities that see themselves as active participants in contemporary culture, and can be proud and protective of their role as custodians and co-creators of our future cultural heritage – as we are.

Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive

Download a PDF of the report

Highlights from 2018/19

Business Support Programmes

2018-19 has been a busy year for our Business Support Programmes team, full of great partnerships and learning.

We gave focused support to London-based creative enterprises with two new programmes and launched a new initiative in the North of England.

We also published the evaluation and findings from our business support programme, Prosper.


On 4 December 2018, we launched a new free business support programme for SMEs in the Blackhorse Lane Creative Enterprise Zone, Waltham Forest. Backed by the local council, with funds from the Mayor of London, between March 2018 and July 2020 we will be supporting 63 creative businesses with at least 12 hours of business support each.

Around 100 local creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders attended the launch event, giving a clear indication of the level of interest there is for this support from small creative businesses and freelancers.

Find out more about Forge here.

Prosper North

March 2019 saw the announcement of a new social investment initiative that Creative United played an important role in developing – the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund (NCRF).

The Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund is being managed by Key Fund and delivered in partnership with Creative United and Social Investment Business. In 2017 the Government’s Inclusive Economy Unit commissioned us to research the use and barriers to social finance in arts and culture, and following this gave the greenlight to set up a new social investment fund.

We were thrilled to receive a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this programme, which we’ve called Prosper North.

During 2019, 2020 and 2021, we look forward to supporting 80 cultural heritage organisations in the North, providing tailored 1:1 advice, workshops, networking and training.

Find out more about Prosper North here.

Own Art

Own Art helps people buy original pieces of art so that they can experience the joy of art every day.

Own Art is a national scheme that helps to stimulate the market for contemporary art by reducing financial barriers for sellers and buyers, particularly those for whom buying art may otherwise be out of reach.

Since 2004, the scheme has provided interest free loans for the purchase of original works of art or craft in any media, supporting over £50 million of contemporary arts and craft sales.

300 organisations across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are now members of the Own Art scheme, including commercial and not-for-profit galleries, museums, art fairs and artist-led organisations.

Our members enjoy subsidised credit facilities, free marketing support and a range of other benefits offered by partner organisations that can help them to develop, grow and diversify their customer base. 2019 marks the 15th anniversary of the Own Art scheme.

We want to celebrate this important milestone with all our member galleries and the nearly 60,000 customers that we have enabled to collect artworks they love.

Key Figures for 2018/19




Loans worth


Average loan value


Customers that would recommend Own Art to others


customers have used the scheme more than once


Member galleries

“We all agree that Own Art is a terrific scheme and feel very privileged to be able to offer it to our customers. We do appreciate all the effort made by the organisers to make the scheme easy and friendly to operate"

Take it away

Take it away provides interest-free loans to individuals for the purchase of musical instruments, equipment, tuition and software.

Since its launch in 2007, Take it away has assisted approximately 90,000 people to access musical instruments worth more than £64 million.

Our services are designed to make learning, playing and participating in music more affordable and open to everyone. Together with our partners, we look to enable and inspire a life-long love of music, ensuring that musicianship is a key skill for life that everyone has the opportunity to develop.

Take it away helps spread the cost of buying any musical instrument, equipment, software and tuition from one of the 141 participating music shops across England and Northern Ireland.

The scheme provides an essential service for young people where the upfront cost of purchasing an instrument is a barrier, and for parents and guardians wanting to support their child’s interest in learning music.

Key Figures for 2018/19




Loans worth


Average loan value


loans went to supporting children under the age of 18


customers that would recommend Take it away to others


Member retailers

The Take it away Consortium

Improving access to music making

In March 2018, Creative United announced its plans to extend the scope of the Take it away scheme to ensure that disabled people are given the same opportunities to access and enjoy music-making through the provision of adapted instruments and new music technologies.

Brought together by Creative United, the Take it away Consortium is made up of leading music organisations: The OHMI Trust, Drake Music, Open Up Music and Youth Music.

In September 2018, the Consortium launched a major research project called Make Some Noise: Access to Music.
The aim of the research was to capture a detailed, national picture of the experiences of disabled people regarding music-making, and get a sense of the experiences and participation levels of disabled children and adults. The findings were made publicly available on the Creative United website and shared with educators, funders and policymakers across the UK to inform the planning of future projects and investment.

No data of this nature previously existed, despite the fact that there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK – that’s 8% of children, 19% of working age adults and 45% of pension age adults.

  • Drake Music
  • OHMI Trust
  • Open Up Music logo
  • Youth Music logo

Key Findings:

52% of parents of disabled children told us that their children experienced moderate or severe limitations to accessing a music lesson of any kind

59% of music retailers said they are not aware of any specialist products or adapted instruments for disabled people

20% of music educators believe that high street music shops generally meet the needs of their students in purchasing what they need for their music-making

50% of music educators tell us that “difficulty accessing a suitable instrument” is a barrier to their students’ music-making

Next steps

The Consortium is working on a number of initiatives to help address these barriers, including the recently announced collaboration with the Nottingham Music Hub, which will pilot a new approach to ensuring that disabled children at mainstream primary schools are able to participate fully in making music through Whole Class Ensemble Tuition.

Find out more about the work which responds to these findings here

“The general retail climate is difficult, so we are very pleased to have this option. IT’S A GREAT SCHEME, THANK YOU!”

Download Previous Impact Reports