Webinar: Impact Investing In The Creative Economy

GWP Members Only Program
Thursday, May 31, 2018
2:00pm to 3:30pm EDT
Add to Calendar

Arts and cultural production represents 4.2 percent of the US economy, or $760 billion. Socially responsible investing in the United States has reached $8.7 trillion. Yet when looking at the thematic areas targeted by impact investing across the country, arts and culture is 0%.

There is an opportunity today to engage capital that values diversity, equity, and inclusion to help shape a creative economy that reflects the culture and heritage of diverse communities and creatives across the U.S. A creative economy shaped by these values can contribute to building social cohesion, resiliency, and sustainability for the future. The creative economy in communities across the United States is ripe for impact investment—but where to start?

This webinar will feature Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab and Eddie Torres, President & CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) in conversation with Ellen Friedman, Executive Director at the Compton Foundation, and Gary Steuer, President and CEO of Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, to talk about examining and implementing mission-related investment (MRI) strategies within their foundations. They will discuss how MRI has the potential to advance their organizational missions and work toward a creative economy that is sustainable, equitable, and inclusive—before it’s too late—while also exploring impact investing as an innovative opportunity to invest in the arts and unlock resources specifically for ALAANA communities.

Intended audience:

  • Foundations that fund the arts
  • Foundations striving to include arts and culture as part of their MRI or impact investing strategies
  • Artist-endowed foundations who wish to learn more about impact investing
  • Artists starting investable social purpose businesses and hoping to attract funding from MRI
  • Social entrepreneurs in creative industries


Upon completion of this webinar you should be able to:

  • Explain why impact investing is important to the arts and culture sector, and how impact investing is another lever for funders to use to advance their missions
  • Explain how racial equity is a key factor to consider when investing in communities
  • Identify an array of opportunities that can help align a funder’s investment portfolio with the creative economy
  • Describe the issues confronted by foundations when exploring MRI


Laura Callanan, Founding Partner, Upstart Co-Lab

Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, served as senior deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, leading all grant-making programs, operations, and research before launching Upstart Co-Lab in 2015. As a consultant with McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Office, Laura led work on social innovation, sustainable capitalism, and social impact assessment. She served as senior adviser at the United Nations Development Programme, executive director of the Prospect Hill Foundation, associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation, and associate treasurer for the Wallace Foundation. In 2014, Laura edited the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Review on the topic of creative placemaking. The same year, she was invited to explore the work of artists as social entrepreneurs as a Visiting Scholar to the American Academy in Rome, and as the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship. Board chair of GlobalGiving, and an advisor to Shift Capital, Laura was the only arts leader named by The NonProfit Times to the Power and Influence Top 50 in 2017.

Eddie Torres, Grantmakers in the Arts

Edwin Torres joined GIA in October 2017. He most recently served as deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and on the GIA board of directors from 2011 through 2016. Torres has a strong and diverse history in arts philanthropy. Prior to joining the NYC Cultural Affairs office, he was an associate director with The Rockefeller Foundation and director of external partnerships for Parsons School of Design at The New School. He has also served on the arts and culture team at Ford Foundation as well as on the staff of Bronx Council on the Arts. He holds a Master of Arts in Art History from Hunter College and a Master of Science in Management from The New School.

Ellen Friedman, Compton Foundation

Ellen Friedman is the Executive Director at the Compton Foundation, which seeks to ignite change toward a sustainable, just, and peaceful future. The Foundation’s program strategy supports transformative leadership and courageous storytelling in the areas of peace, environment, and women’s reproductive health, rights, and justice. Under Ellen’s leadership the Foundation created a special 3-year initiative to advance a Women, Peace, and Security agenda within the US foreign policy and national security arena. The Compton Foundation is an original signatory of the Divest/Invest pledge and is committed to investing 100% of its endowment in mission related investments.

Gary Steuer, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation

As President/CEO of Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Steuer oversees $3 million in annual grantmaking to arts and culture in the Denver area, and empowers its signature programs and initiatives to ensure they are advancing innovation, excellence, community, equity and quality of life. He previously served as Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia and VP for Private Sector Affairs at Americans for the Arts. He is a board member of Grantmakers in the Arts and Colorado Association of Funders.