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LISC in the NYT: A Creative Take on Impact Investing

This week, the New York Times spotlights LISC NYC’s Inclusive Creative Economy Fund and the wide-reaching benefits of impact investing in creative industries. The LISC fund fuels loans to build and preserve work spaces for artisans and entrepreneurs who would otherwise be edged out of the market by high New York City real estate costs. “We’re trying to create a new channel of investment capital,” says Sam Marks, executive director of LISC NYC. “This is about benefits for low- and moderate-income people.”

The excerpt below is from:
A Push to Invest in the Arts Grows Stronger
By Paul Sullivan, The New York Times

Like an out-of-town tryout for a Broadway musical, Lorrie Meyercord tested her desire to make an investment in the creative economy by choosing a small city before moving to New York.

She invested $1 million in artist housing in Dearborn, Mich., in 2016 through a nonprofit group called Artspace, which builds and manages affordable residences for artists and art organizations. The venture was a success because it gave the arts community broader social support while also providing Ms. Meyercord with a safe investment.

The concept is known as impact investing, in which investors consider social good in addition to financial returns. It was also a path to expand the way people think about investing in the arts, an area often overlooked by investors.

Two years later, Ms. Meyercord is making a similar investment, but this time, she is focused on the thriving New York art scene.

Working with Upstart Co-Lab, which channels impact investing into the arts, Ms. Meyercord has invested $100,000 in a bond offering that will raise at least $5 million for projects in New York. The recipients, which will be announced on Monday, include La MaMa, a theatrical organization and performance space with more than 50 years of work in the East Village.

The organization is receiving a $3.2 million line of credit that will help pay to renovate its main theater.

“So many people are looking at the bottom line and not understanding how this loan affects our local economy,” said Mia Yoo, artistic director of La MaMa, noting the group employs 45 people but give opportunities to about 1,500 artists a year.

“La MaMa is dealing with experimental work and trying things for the first time,” she said. “The impact of it, we don’t see for years.”

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