Artists Are Social Entrepreneurs
Artists are the original social entrepreneurs. They strengthen our society precisely because of who they are, how they encounter the world, and the risks they are willing to take. Creative agency is their greatest asset: artists speak out, act up, remind us of our history, and strip life down to its essentials. They inspire, excite, and dream in a way that enables the rest of the world to face challenges and embrace changes we cannot yet imagine.

Artists are making social impact in diverse fields—youth development, environmental conservation, healthy eating, social cohesion, community outreach, a better criminal justice system, more sustainable food, equity and access, and a better end of life. See these profiles of Artist-Innovators to learn more.

Arts Organizations Are Social Enterprises
Arts organizations—nonprofit galleries, museums, theaters, dance companies, orchestras—are the original social enterprises. They earn 60% of their revenue. They successfully compete and partner with commercial companies that offer similar products and services. They manage the tension between a financial bottom line and an artistic vision. They use the market to scale. They are a significant driver of the national economy.


Why Now

Creativity Is Important
CEOs, elected officials, and local leaders are all in agreement: the future depends on a creative economy.
See how important creativity is.

Social Innovation Needs The Arts
A generation of impact investing and social entrepreneurship has built systems, networks, and products that can be adapted and deployed quickly for the arts. But social entrepreneurs and other stakeholders either don’t know that artists make great partners or aren’t sure how to engage them.  This is where Upstart Co-Lab comes in, integrating the arts into the social innovation infrastructure.

Artists Know What They Need
Over the past 20 years, thought leaders including Maria Rosario Jackson, Susan Seifert, Stephen Sheppard, Holly Sidford, Mark Stern, and Steven Tepper; research efforts like Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC); and initiatives like the Center for Cultural Innovation, Creative Capital, and U.S. Artists have well documented the tools and resources artists need to scaleWe know what’s needed.  Now is the time to take action.

Social Change-Makers Need What Artists Can Share
The Stanford Social Innovation Review has published more than 400 articles on “creativity” and more than 7,000 articles on “innovation,” but just 23 of these writings mention the arts. Fortunately, social impact leaders understand the power of storytelling, looking for new ways to engage different audiences and creative solutions to tough problems. They are discovering that artists can be their partners.  See how the Gates Foundation has partnered with artists in its groundbreaking vaccines work.