• Social enterprises are businesses with a social mission; they want to make a positive impact on the world.
  • These businesses aim to make profits that are reinvested or donated to create positive social change – for people and the planet.
  • Social enterprises trade to tackle social problems, improve communities and people’s life chances or the environment.

There are over 70,000 social enterprises throughout the UK including The Big Issue, Divine Chocolate and the Eden Project, Cornwall.

And according to 2014 figures gathered by SE100, these businesses collectively contribute £22 billion to the economy and employ nearly 1 million people.

What does it mean to be a Creative Social Enterprise?

A creative social enterprise means making profits that are in turn reinvested in the creative sector, which in turn benefit people and / or the planet.  This is often referred to as the ‘triple bottom line’ – profit, people and planet.

Here are some creative social enterprises based in the UK:

Cockpit Arts  is an award winning social enterprise and the UK’s only business incubator for craftspeople, housing up to 170 small businesses at their two centres in central and south London.

Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) “From breathing new life into old buildings, to supporting young people to develop the skills to succeed in an ever-changing world, RIO innovates to deliver real and lasting social change.”

RIO also has a proud track record of setting up and running creative, innovative and award winning social enterprises. One of which is Column Bakehouse. As Plymouth’s only social enterprise bakery, Column Bakehouse uses the production of delicious, organic, honestly baked bread to support a range of employment and community based projects.

Column Bakehouse new suppliers of University cafes’ bread.


Here are some examples of Dorset based social enterprises:

HONEST is a Social Enterprise Digital Agency based in Sturminster Newton. It makes money from building websites, apps, software and providing marketing services.  They return their profits back into the community through projects – from children’s coding programming classes to free websites for charities.

Bounce Back Arts  (BBA) – based in Weymouth, BBA uses arts, heritage and culture to promote community well-being and enhance public spaces. BBA works creatively with the community and in partnership with others to discover, celebrate and imagine local places and spaces across time.

b-side CIC – is an artist led arts organisation based on Portland. They work with and commission artists to make new site-responsive work revealing the marginal, often forgotten and less commercial aspects of our coastal towns and communities. They invite professional artists to make artworks in response to place: often drawing upon the history, architecture and geography of a particular site or working with communities as source of inspiration and research.

Audacious CIC – based in Poole, Audacious creates multi-sensory immersive experiences using artistry, technology, design and narrative, designed to bring people together.

Babigloo Music for Babies CIC – – delivering therapeutic music led sessions to parents with new babies who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.

Friends of The Lyric Theatre CIC – the Bridport theatre run by a community of artists for artists and the community and home to BearKat Café.

And of course, us! The Arts Development Company  is based in Dorchester and we develop arts and culture projects and initiatives to address social problems, support the environment and aim to improve local communities.

Do you know of any other Dorset based social enterprises? If so, please share in the comments section below – we would love to hear from you.

To find out more about social enterprise and how you too might add social value to your creative enterprise contact rosie@theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk

Hear more from a Dorset based social entrepreneur Paul Seaman who has set up two of his own social enterprises here.