“Art for Impact’s Sake” – Another Bristol social enterprise takes on investment from ground-breaking Fund


PAPER Arts, a Bristol based social enterprise helping creative young people who are unemployed to develop their potential through art, has received £250,000 of investment to launch a new workspace. Most of the investment comes from the new Resonance Bristol Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund, which only weeks ago made its first investment into South Bristol Sports Centre.

PAPER Arts, has received investment to acquire a property in the St Paul’s area of the city, creating new studio spaces and training areas that will enable them to engage with at least four times the number of people their current building allows.

The £200,000 investment from the Fund has enabled PAPER Arts, a community interest company[1], to purchase a building in the St Paul’s area from Bristol City Council, which had been empty for four years, helping to revitalize a previously run down area and making it one of the biggest creative spaces in the city. The new studio spaces and training areas will enable PAPER Arts to engage with at least four times the number of people their current building allows. In addition, Resonance also introduced Esmée Fairbairn as a co-investor alongside the Fund, who invested a further £50,000 in order to renovate the building.

The Resonance Bristol SITR Fund has been set up to help to dismantle poverty in all its forms around the city by funding good local businesses, which are intentionally helping to rebuild lives and affect real change. Resonance hopes to be completing its next deal from the Fund in early May, and is in dialogue with dozens of other social enterprises around the city. Meanwhile, the Fund itself remains open for investment from individuals wishing to invest in social enterprise with an attractive tax incentive similar to the long-running Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Simon Chisholm, Investment Director at Resonance said:  “We are delighted to be investing in the growth of a highly impactful social enterprise like PAPER Arts. We were impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the team, who are using arts and enterprise to give real opportunities to young people from diverse backgrounds.”

Founded in 2014, PAPER Arts helps creative young people who are unemployed, under-employed or starting out as self-employed to develop their potential, become more enterprising and turn their talents into fulfilling careers through a range of programmes and training opportunities. The majority of their outreach work focuses on NEETs[2], young vulnerable adults with learning difficulties or mental health issues and the long-term unemployed.

PAPER Arts had reached capacity in its existing building and wanted to expand its reach into the Ashley, Easton & Lawrence Hill (AELH) Neighbourhood Partnership area. This will both enable PAPER Arts to develop its new programme, the Hive, to engage many more young people from diverse backgrounds and increase its income generation potential, as well as being more accessible to a community where there is a lack of employment and training opportunities.

Simone Kidner, PAPER Arts CEO explains what the investment means to the organization: “Gaining social investment from the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund and Esmée Fairbairn has been a pivotal moment for PAPER Arts. With their support, we now have the opportunity to expand and develop a business model that will secure our long term sustainability as well as dramatically increasing our social impact. We are able to offer workspace space to creative and social entrepreneurs developing their businesses, but not just this, we will work with these entrepreneurs to provide work experience placements, internships and employment opportunities to local young people. This helps entrepreneurs to grow their businesses as well as supporting more young people into the creative sector.

“Many of the young people that have received training and mentoring at PAPER Arts are happy to talk of their experiences.  Here are quotes from three of them.”[3]

“The Mentoring Club has given me the confidence to re-start being creative, knowing I’m not alone in ‘the struggle’ and giving useful and practical advice.”
Sara Tillyer-Smith, 23

“PAPER Arts has been a valuable source to gain much needed knowledge of how to make what I love doing into a business and gives me the chance to discuss ideas with other creatives.”
Alice Pain, 24

“A nice relaxed atmosphere where I feel comfortable to discuss my ideas and concerns. The advice given has been really helpful and I really appreciate the support. It’s good to discuss my goals because it helps keep me focused and it’s helped me achieve a lot more in a shorter space of time.”
Grace Sodzi, 19

Many of the young people that have come through the internship programme at PAPER Arts suffer with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.  PAPER Arts has found this struggle is common in the lives of the unemployed, and directly supports young people with mental health issues to use creativity to boost their confidence.

The employees in the organization are passionate and vibrant and find creative and nurturing ways to engage young people who may previously have struggled to engage with formal education.  In addition, PAPER Arts has already provided over twenty paid internships and work experience placements to these groups of young people over the last two years and they have become an official training provider with the Skills Funding Agency. They are now looking to increase their service offer through providing Creative Traineeships and Apprenticeships to help more young people from diverse backgrounds into a sustainable career in an area about which they are passionate.

To learn more about PAPER Arts visit their website:


e/ hello@paperarts.org.uk

[1] Similar to a limited company but is designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.

[2] NEETs – Young people who are “Not in Education, Employment or Training”.

[3] All three young people would be happy to be interviewed.