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Investing in the Creative Economy: Episode 38 of Money + Meaning

SOCAP Global January 14, 2020

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Souls Grown Deep and Upstart Co-Lab on their Efforts to Drive Impact Capital to the Creative Economy

“We are looking to gather the interest of museums that have billions of dollars in their endowment portfolios, which aren’t thoughtfully invested in respect to impact. Instead they are focused on maximum return. Our hope is to convince them…to rethink their investments to be aligned with their values and mission.” 
–Maxwell Anderson

Laura Callanan and her organization Upstart Co-Lab are working to convince more investors that they have a tremendous opportunity to drive impact through investments in the arts, culture, design, and heritage-based businesses that make up the creative economy. Upstart Co-Lab has amassed data that shows this part of the economy encompasses 145 industries, is valued at $804 billion, and generates 10 million jobs. Providing values aligned capital to these innovative businesses, Callanan says, can create positive social and environmental impact across portfolios.

One organization that responded to Upstart Co-Lab’s message about “creativity lens” investing is Souls Grown Deep, a Foundation and Community Partnership dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting the cultural traditions and work of African American artists from the South. Under the leadership of Maxwell Anderson, Souls Grown Deep has partnered with Upstart Co-Lab to invest $1M in opportunities that align with their mission. Through these investments they aim to foster economic empowerment, promote racial and social justice, and create economic opportunities in historically marginalized communities. Anderson’s hope is that the return on these investments will increase the organization’s overall capacity to give while creating direct positive impact in the lives of the people and communities they have a mission to serve.

Anderson, who began his career as an art historian, curator, and museum director, is also helping introduce Callanan to the art world where they are working together to convince more museums to shift their investment dollars into investing for social impact as well as for financial return. According to Callanan, after a slow initial response, they are now seeing interest from museums and other cultural institutions that are actively seeking out information about mission related investing. She cites the Louvre, which now invests 5% of their €250 million endowment fund in a socially responsible and impact oriented way, as an example of a museum that has “embraced” socially responsible investing and is making the shift towards impact.

Callanan and Anderson agree that more museums need to begin thinking closely about the impact of their investments and whether those investments align with their mission and values. Callanan points out that museums are already grappling with protests over “tainted donations” (from pharmaceuticals manufacturers, the fossil fuel industry, and other controversial sources). She said that in her view, it is “only a matter of time until the questions turn from where donations originated to how museum endowments are being deployed.”

On episode 38 of SOCAP’s Money and Meaning podcast, Lindsay Smalling interviews Callanan and Anderson about their partnership and efforts to attract more investors to the creative sector and the opportunities that creativity lens investing offers for investors, museums, creatives, and communities.

Listen to more episodes of Money + Meaning here.

Featured Voices

Laura Callanan
Founding Partner
Upstart Co-Lab

Maxwell L. Anderson
Souls Grown Deep

Lindsay Smalling

About Money + Meaning

Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. This series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors. 


Laura Callanan, Max Anderson, Philippe Gaboriau of the Louvre Endowment Fund, Justina Lai of Wetherby Asset Management, Ravi Rajan of the California Institute of the Arts, and Tom Campbell of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco participated in a SOCAP19 panel session: Bringing $60 Billion of Arts Endowments Off the Sidelines for Impact Investing.

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