About the programme

Creative Industry Finance aims

  • Enable business growth by providing tailored business advice and access to finance for businesses that operate within the cultural and creative sector.
  • Develop the business skills of applicants who join the programme.
  • Establish network of experienced business advisors that will work with applicants to strengthen their business proposals.
  • Highlight the demand and effectiveness of loan finance as an alternative to grant funding for cultural and creative businesses.
  • Increase the number of creative businesses accessing debt finance to enable business growth across the creative sector.

The application process

We have almost reached full capacity for the number of businesses and organisations that we can support with free business advice through our programme. We are therefore closing applications on Friday 26th August at 12 midday. 

What is Creative Industry Finance?

Creative Industry Finance is designed to assist creative and cultural enterprises in securing the finance and investment they need to successfully develop and grow into sustainable businesses.

The programme offers tailored advice with a focus on supporting businesses through the process of applying to one of our lending partners for a business development loan.

Since launching across England in September 2014, we have supported more than 200 creative enterprises with over 1500 hours of free one-to-one business support, enabling over £350,000 in loan finance to be accessed. 

Who can apply

Creative Industry Finance is open to a wide range of creative and cultural businesses. We welcome applications from charities and social enterprises, commercial businesses, as well as sole traders and individual artists.

Find out some of the creative businesses we have supported here

Our programme is not aimed at start up businesses, so you will need to demonstrate that you have been trading for at least eighteen months.

The programme is available to all creative businesses registered and based in England, but you do not need to be a registered business to apply.

Who runs the programme?

Creative Industry Finance is delivered by Creative United, a Community Interest Company, with National Lottery award funding from Arts Council England.

The programme is delivered in partnership with a specially selected group of lenders and our network of business advisors.

Accessing finance

Does Creative United make any charge for the services it provides?

We able to offer free business advice to any organisation that applies to our programme as these costs are subsidized through our grant from Arts Council England.

If we have successfully supported an application to the point of securing finance, a commission, which is typically 1% of the business loan value, will be payable to Creative United .

This fee contributes towards the on-going costs of supporting clients over the years ahead, following receipt of funds.

What are the interest rates?

All loans offered under the Creative Industry Finance programme are interest bearing, and will be offered subject to the terms and conditions of the lender involved. Typically, interest rates will be in the region of 10% - 14%, but may be higher or lower dependent on the nature of the application and needs of the borrower.

What can I use the money for?

Loans can be used for any business activity including:

  • Working and/or fixed capital expenditure
  • Taking on new staff
  • Acquiring new premises
  • Purchase of stock
  • Purchase of equipment
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Skills training/staff development

You cannot use the loan to pay off existing debts.

What kind of loans are available?

Our lending partners are able to consider applications for loans from as little as £2,500 up to £15m. The type of lending available to a business will be dependent on a number of factors, including the legal status of the business and the reasons they need the loan.

Each applicant will be advised at an early stage in the process what lending options are open to them, including indicative interest rates based on the terms typically offered by our lending partners.


When do I have to pay the money back?

Repayment periods will typically be between 1 and 7 years. Most lenders will expect you to begin monthly repayments immediately following receipt of funds. However, in some cases it may be possible to arrange a short deferment period.

Business support

Can I skip the business support and just apply for a loan?

Before being referred to one of our lending partners, we expect our applicants to receive a minimum of three hours of business advice from one of our advisors.

What costs are involved?

The business advice package offered under our programme is free of charge to your business. However, you will be required to cover the costs of travel to attend meetings with a business advisor.

What kind of business advice is available?

Our business advice programme is funded by Arts Council England, and is offered free of charge to you.

We have a team of 30 dedicated business advisors across England, who are committed to delivering free business support to your creative business.

Through tailored 1:1 sessions, our business advisors will aim to:

  • Identifying your business’s needs and opportunities
  • Articulating your business plans and financial forecasts
  • Understanding the available finance options
  • Preparing for referral to one of our lending partners

Will I have to travel?

We will try our best to match you with a business advisor within your region. Due to the geographical spread, we are also able to offer telephone or skype calls, as well as face-to-face meetings.

Your application

Do businesses outside London have an equal chance of receiving support?

We are committed to providing support to businesses across England. We will be working hard to ensure that information about the Creative Industry Finance programme is disseminated as widely as possible, and hope to encourage a wide range of applications from businesses all over the country.

Do I need to have a business plan ready before I apply?

To assess your application we need to see a business plan, financial statements and forecasts. If you do not have a complete or finished business plan, you can attach a working document.

Your business plan should including the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Mission statement
  • Busness description
  • SWOT analysis
  • Industry background
  • Competitor analysis
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing and Sales strategies
  • Management summary
  • Finance requirements
  • Financial plan

You will also need to upload:

  • Last year’s financial statements or management accounts
  • Cashflow projections for current year

Eligibility Criteria

To apply for the programme, your business must be :

  • Based in England
  • Trading for at least 18 months.
  • Be in one or more of these creative sectors:
  • architecture
  • crafts
  • games (e.g gaming and app development)
  • fashion
  • festivals and events (that directly involve or support artists or other creative industry enterprises)
  • design
  • digital media and web (e.g. creative software development, digital media, web design)
  • film, TV and radio (e.g. documentary film, television production, film making)
  • music (e.g. record labels, promoters, publishers, musicians)
  • performing arts (e.g. dance, drama, theatre production, promotion and development)
  • publishing and literature
  • visual arts and photography

How will my application be assessed?

We will assess each application against three criteria:

1. Strength of existing business

  • Number of years trading (minimum 18 months)
  • Business achievements i.e existing customer/client base
  • Quality of creative product/service as seen by customer testimonials, press coverage etc.
  • Skills and experience of key personnel within the business

2. Investment need

  • The business development opportunity that has been identified
  • The amount of finance needed
  • The purpose of finance

3. Impact of investment

  • Market opportunity and competitor analysis
  • Cashflow forecasts set out projected increases in sales revenues over given period
  • Forecasts show proposed repayment plan for investment received
  • Job creation opportunities detailed

I have a specific question

If in doubt, give us a call on 0207 759 1114 or email info@creativeindustryfinance.org.uk.

We are happy to discuss your application, including signposting you to a relevant alternative means of support if your business is not the right fit for this programme.

Is there a deadline to apply ?

Applications for the Creative Industry Finance programme are currently closed. Please register your details if you’d like to hear from us regarding free business support in the future.

What sectors are not eligible?

While we recognize the creative work happening across different sectors, the Creative Industry Finance programme is not able to provide support to following types of business:

  • Auction houses and antiques based businesses
  • Advertising, Public Relations, Consultancy and Marketing agencies
  • Businesses providing non-creative services to the creative industries (e.g. webhosting, space hire)

Please get in touch if you are unsure. We will always endeavor to signpost you to relevant, alternative support.

If you can't find an answer to your question you can email us, or call on 020 7759 1114.

We have more options on our contact page.

What can business support do for you?

  • Enable you to become resilient or ready for growth
  • Help you create or strengthen your business plan
  • Increase your understanding of routes to finance