Loading page...
Back to the top of the page

2022/23 Annual Report

Welcome to our Annual Impact Report for 2022/23. Once again, we are pleased to share this report as a digital only publication, helping to keep our carbon footprint as light as possible. A PDF version of the text is also available to download using the button below, should you require a more accessible format.

Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Exec - Creative United

Mary-Alice Stack, CEO.
Photo by Gesine Garz

Download PDF Report

One of the great pleasures of being part of the Creative United team is the opportunity to explore and test ideas in collaboration with others. As a social enterprise, our mission is twofold:

  • To respond directly to the needs of individuals, organisations and other enterprises through the development and delivery of services that support the sustainability, inclusive growth and diversity of our arts and cultural sector; and
  • to achieve positive change for people across the country by initiating activity that evidences the economic and social value of arts and creative enterprise so it is more widely understood and supported by policy makers and investors.

To work towards these goals during the course of 2022/23, we partnered with local government and those in the finance sector. Together we began to explore the structural barriers and gaps in provision that make it difficult for micro creative enterprises (including individual artists) to access the services they need to trade equitably alongside larger and more established businesses in the creative sector.

These explorations have led to the development of a number of pilot projects and services which will be launched by Creative United during 2023/24. We have tested new ways of working and new ways of evidencing the impact that investment in business support and commercial skills development can have on the lives and livelihoods of a wide range of creative practitioners.

Like many arts organisations, much of the year was focused on planning our application for continued funding from Arts Council England as part of their National Portfolio. The outcome of this process has seen us evolve a new funding arrangement with the Arts Council, outside of the portfolio.

We are delighted to be continuing the nearly twenty years of investment in our work by the Arts Council with a new funding agreement in place that ensures our flagship Own Art and Take it away programmes carry on supporting access and inclusion in visual arts and music.

While our core service will remain in place (i.e. interest free payment options for the purchase of contemporary art, craft and musical instruments), over the next two years we will be developing our programme offer to more directly address the needs and opportunities of individual artists and musicians, and in particular those living in areas of lower engagement and/or from underrepresented backgrounds.

Mary-Alice Stack
Chief Executive 


A Take it away 0% finance swing tag in the foreground of Forsyth Music Store, with a wall of electric guitars in the background

Supporting the music retail economy

Through the Take it away scheme, we’re delighted to have supported our network of 114 musical instrument retailers to transact £1,701,220 worth of loans to customers across the UK. With the benefit of funding from Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland we’ve helped more than 627 children and young people to start or continue their journey as young musicians by owning a musical instrument of their own.

Old School Gallery, Alnmouth

Supporting artists and makers

The Own Art scheme demonstrated its value as a means to enable galleries to broaden their customer base, with the scheme welcoming a record number of new members in 2022/23. A total of £4,968,449 of consumer credit was provided for the purchase of original art and craft through our network of 330 member galleries across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

These sales have helped support the careers of approximately 3,100 artists, and enabled 4,657 customers to start or add to a collection of contemporary art and craft in their own home.

Supporting businesses in innovative ways

Supporting creative enterprise

As part of our mission to upskill and support the creative and cultural sector we have launched a new programme of e-learning courses to address skills gaps in the industry in an accessible and contemporary format. We’re also pleased to be bringing our Re:Create programme back in 2023 for its second iteration, in partnership with Wandsworth Borough Council, offering free business support and mentoring to creatives in the borough of Wandsworth.

Supporting the arts and creative industries for 10 years

Creative United celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023. In the decade since we were ‘spun out’ from Arts Council England we have enabled 174,000 people to access original art work or musical instruments they may not have otherwise been able to afford through the delivery of our flagship consumer credit programmes, Own Art and Take it away.

Through the design and delivery of national, regional and local business support programmes, we have also helped over 5,000 creative and cultural enterprises across England to build their skills, confidence and capacity to develop and contribute positively to the strength of the UK’s creative economy.

Evidencing our Social Value

It is at the core of Creative United’s mission and values to understand the impacts of the work we do. We are committed to increasing access to the arts and creative industries and are constantly looking for new and innovative ways not just to achieve these ends, but to evidence them in a way that can benefit the sector as a whole and attract further investment.

In early 2023, we established a new Knowledge Exchange partnership with University College London (UCL). Bringing together their expertise in research and Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodologies with our programme data and understanding of the cultural sector, we are co-developing a new SROI framework to better measure and communicate the social impact and return on investment of Creative United’s publicly funded programmes. We are also exploring how this methodology could potentially be applied elsewhere in the sector to help evidence the impact of the arts and creative industries on the lives and livelihoods of people across the UK.

We expect to have formulated our new SROI framework for calculating our impact by the end of this year, following more data analysis and consultations with people who have benefitted from our work: people who have had art, craft and music instruments made affordable for them, and business owners, leaders and creatives who have been able to take their enterprises forward because of our support schemes. We look forward to being able to share these results and exploring ways to extend the value in our approach so that this can be of benefit to other organisations looking to evidence their social impact.

Making contemporary art, craft and music-making more affordable…

In 2022/23, we helped 5,025 people purchase contemporary art and musical instruments who otherwise would not have been able to afford to, enabling them to enjoy these at home and further their creative ambitions.

The scheme enabled me to purchase an instrument that enabled my son to progress through his grades.

–  a Take it away customer

We removed financial barriers to art and music for:


of Take it away customers who said they wouldn’t have been able to make their purchase without the benefit of an interest free loan


of Own Art customers who said they wouldn’t have been able to make their purchase without the benefit of an interest free loan


of Take it away and Own Art customers were from areas of low arts engagement

Hear for yourself...

A woman guides a young boy's hand as she teaches him to play piano
Forsyth Music Shop, Manchester

Very pleased that we have this affordable scheme for children to try and enjoy music. Thank you!.

– a Take it away customer

Sophie Mickleburgh from Take it away member retailer Mickleburgh Music talks about the store’s history with the scheme and the importance of accessibility in music.


It’s brilliant to walk into a gallery and have a chance to purchase a piece which we otherwise wouldn’t be able to consider if we had to pay for it up front.

– an Own Art customer

The Own Art logo on a window vinyl on a shop front of a gallery, with a teal ceramic vase on display in the foreground.
Tallantyre Gallery, Morpeth





Photographer Lee Fulmer talks about his experience selling his work through Own Art.



Artist Imogen Morris shares her perspective on selling her work through Own Art after having previously benefited from the scheme as a customer.


Supporting the resilience of the creative economy

We are proud to have offered free to access business mentorship, skill development, and networking opportunities via our National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Rebuilding Heritage programme (in collaboration with The Heritage Alliance) and Heritage Compass (in partnership with Cause4) initiatives. Our impact on over 290 organisations and creative entrepreneurs was significant, aiding them in enhancing their business strategies and fostering resilience. This support became crucial as we navigated the transition out of the pandemic into a phase of ongoing economic challenges.

Liliesleaf Trust

It has helped to ensure the sustainability of our small charity so that we can continue to operate and open to the public into the future; firstly during the pandemic and now during the cost of living crisis.
It has also assured the trustees that my management is effective and leads to a sustainable business thus giving me the confidence to be ambitious and make new suggestions.

– a business support participant

Heritage Compass enabled us to develop a methodology to plan how we can work through this major period of change. It helped us understand the different areas of research/work/reports that we need to undertake and who may be able to support us in this. It has helped familiarise us with issues and opportunities across the heritage sector and helped us feel a new part of that sector.

– a business support participant

Liliesleaf Trust

We surveyed the organisations on the Heritage Compass and Rebuilding Heritage programme who had received 1:1 business mentoring and critical friend support from our team of business advisors. From those that completed the survey:


indicated the support received had improved their business skills


indicated that they were more confident in their business achieving its goals as a result of the mentoring and support

Thank you to our funders and partners

We wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much in 2022/23 without the support and help of our funders and partners. Thank you.

Greater London Authority Logo
Peabody logo
University College London logo
Queen's University Belfast logo
King's College London logo

…and, of course, thank you to all our business advisors and training provider partners.

A word from our Chair…

The last twelve months has been another period of uncertainty and challenge, which once again we have responded to with our customary vigour and expertise.

The war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis, with the resultant impact on costs and demand, have led to levels of inflation which have required considerable planning skills and prudent management. Coming on the back of Covid this would be a challenge for any company, and we are no exception.

However, we have navigated this scenario with another excellent year with growing social impact alongside growing financial strength. This coupled with a strong and increasingly experienced Board and Executive team has proved to be a winning formula for us, as is evident in this Annual Impact report.

We have many exciting developments in hand for 2023 but are very aware of the mounting challenges as the cost-of-living crisis develops. We are more than ready to meet these challenges with our brand of adaptability, innovation and empathy, thanks to the enduring excellence of our team.

– David Gilbert, Chair of Creative United

David Gilbert, Chair

Financial Accounts


D S Gilbert
N D Henry
M-A Stack
K Hall
A R Collins
S N Bull
R Shah (resigned 30 September 2022)
A Giri (resigned 2 February 2023)

Registered Office:

10 Queen Street Place

Registered Number:

08280539 (England and Wales)


Taylor Viney & Marlow Ltd
46-54 High Street

Balance Sheet 31 March 2023


Tangible assets




Cash at bank and in hand






Amounts falling due within one year










Income and expenditure account







The company is entitled to exemption from audit under Section 477 of the Companies Act 2006 for the year ended 31 March 2023.

The members have not required the company to obtain an audit of its financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2023 in accordance with Section 476 of the Companies Act 2006.

The directors acknowledge their responsibilities for:

(a) ensuring that the company keeps accounting records which comply with Sections 386 and 387 of the Companies Act 2006 and
(b) preparing financial statements which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company as at the end of each financial year and of its surplus or deficit for each financial year in accordance with the requirements of Sections 394 and 395 and which otherwise comply with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 relating to financial statements, so far as applicable to the company.

The financial statements have been prepared and delivered in accordance with the provisions applicable to companies subject to the small companies regime.

In accordance with Section 444 of the Companies Act 2006, the Income Statement has not been delivered.

The financial statements were approved by the Board of Directors and authorised for issue on 26 July 2023 and were signed on its behalf by:

D Gilbert – Director and Chair

Notes to the financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2023




4. Tangible Fixed Assets
Plant and machinery etc £

AT 1 APRIL 2022 and 31 March 2023


AT 1 APRIL 2022
Charge for year
At 31 March 2023



At 31 March 2023
At 31 March 2022



5. Debtors: Amounts Falling Due Within One Year

Trade debtors
Other debtors





6. Creditors: Amounts Falling Due Within One Year

Trade creditors
Taxation and social security
Other creditors