Prosper North was a free, two year long business support programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme supported 89 cultural heritage organisations in the North of England – from music venues and community art groups, to independent museums and literature festivals.
Prosper North’s mix of free, tailored 1:1 business support, workshops, webinars and meetups were designed to enable three cohorts of cultural heritage organisations to increase income and impact, become more resilient businesses and explore social investment. The programme was delivered at a time of significant change, with the second cohort starting in March 2020 as the first English Covid-19 lockdown began.
What our Prosper North Organisations had to say:
“There is a good network of arts and heritage business consultants on which to draw upon. Part of the problem when looking for someone to lead on away days or strategic planning is who would be a good fit for our organisation.”
“[We] have been able to take a step back from day-to-day operations to explore commercial opportunities and growth potential. As a result of Prosper North, we have secured a Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund grant, developed relationships across the sector and with social investors, and are much better equipped to develop our Trading Co business plan. We are planning to increase self-earned income by 100k over the next few years. Our consultant was very supportive and informed.”
“To have the mentor and Prosper North programme at the start of lockdown was incredibly supportive, personally and for our business. The practical advice from our mentor was good quality, realistic and achievable. Through encouragement and support we gained much needed emergency funding and were able to direct this to focusing on building our online presence. It has been a challenging time, but we have a clearer message and are focusing on what our local community and cultural needs are. We are planning the coming year with a clearer focus on how our business needs to be shaped and excited about new opportunities.”
The Prosper North programme timeline
Who did the programme support?
Prosper North was made available to organisations that are based in one of the 11 Northern-most Local Enterprise Partnership regions. The selected participants were diverse in their scale, governance, cultural and audience focus. To meet the full range of organisations that took part in the programme across the three editions, click here.
What did the programme achieve?
The Prosper North programme was able to:
- give participants the confidence and tools to refocus their business planning, delivery activities, income streams and impact
- enable participants to make informed decisions as to the appropriateness of Social Investment
- support participants in navigating their way through the financial, operational and even wellbeing resilience challenges of Covid-19 to become more stable and sustainable – helping safeguard a range of heritage
The programme’s evaluation report revealed the following outcomes:
Created or strengthened their business plan 0 %
Increased their business skills and confidence 0 %
Grew or diversified their market and/or audience 0 %
Rebuilt or plan to rebuild business operations in a sustainable way, post-Covid-19 0 %
Accessing Social Investment
One of the key aims of the Prosper North programme was to help organisations achieve a position whereby they can access and use funding from diverse sources, including social investment. The programme set out to create a pipeline of organisations interested in applying to the Key Fund’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund (NCRF) and other social investors.
As a result of the programme 45% of participating organisations are now approaching social investors or lenders, having prepared for investment in their business plans and impact strategies.
Four Prosper North organisations were also able to secure NCRF social investment deals, including Becconsall – Lancashire’s Living Museum – which you can read the full case study about here.
Our Business Advisors
Hours of 1:1 Business Support
Organisations enrolled on the Prosper North programme received tailored 1:1 business support from our network of exceptional business advisors. This bespoke aspect was considered by participants to be the most valuable and successful of all the programme elements.
Our Impact: Case Studies
We have developed a number of case studies that capture the journey of our Prosper North organisations’ change over the course of their time receiving tailored business support, including any changes due to Covid-19.
Towards the end of the programme, we thought it would be great to catch up with some former Prosper North participants to see how they have managed to navigate the challenging months that the Covid-19 pandemic presented. Have a read of those articles below.