What does the future of Islington Mill look like?

With the world being so unsure and the mill really prioritising well being over the output of their residents, they have turned to the bigger picture. They have put together a huge bid scheme and they were successful! The mill have put it best in their own words.

‘In July 2014, Islington Mill announced the success of a three-year long capital funding application to Arts Council England for £1 million. The funding forms part of a larger £2.2 million project to safeguard the future of Islington Mill with a programme of major building improvements to include new artist-in-residence facilities and the renovation of a further 4,000 square ft of unused space.

In September 2020, Islington Mill announced they would receive £3.3m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund. The funding will be used to purchase and renovate an adjacent site building called New Islington Mill to house artist studios and to distribute training and grants for creatives and small businesses based in Salford.

The former industrial site adjacent to Islington Mill, Regent Trading Estate, now forms part of Islington Mill Arts Club and houses artist studios, exhibition and performance space. The development of this site as a creative destination for Salford is described as ‘The Other City’, named after the long-running music festival that is operated from Islington Mill.

Islington Mill Foundation is due to launch in 2021 as the charitable arm of Islington Mill which will focus on artist development, mentoring, training and nurturing.

Renovations to the main Islington Mill building began in November 2020.’

These are some proposed images of the eventual refurbishment.

But what does that all really mean for us as readers, Greg Thorpe put it in layman’s terms for us.

“We had our capital bill program which was successful, however we had some delays with building, but it has now begun! That’s a real milestone, we didn’t know if it was going to happen but it may be a year of building and refurbishment to get to completion. The main mill building will be made watertight alongside some new live and work spaces and more residencies in the roof, then a lift to all floors so it’s all accessible.

With all this new space will come new programming, we hope to have a new gallery, a new un-curated space, which we find works best so people can do anything, either big sculptures or anything really. All of this is in the main building.

However we have now extended our footprint around us with mill artists to house. Regent Trading House next to us are amazing industrial units which are full of new artists, with collectives too, really carrying the spirit of the mill. We don’t want to just reproduce what the mill already does well, we want people to arrive and really change the mill and make us think differently.

So with the EU funding we were awarded, we’ve also been able to acquire the final building on the site which is commonly known as the New Islington Mill, which wasn’t part of the mill before, artists were in there but we were always slightly unsure of the future. That will now be full of artists with secured homes!

We just want to do more of what we already do well but in a more certain and compassionate way, we want to be more open to more kinds of artists and that’s our hope. We talk about the mill in terms of not what you do there, not what you make there or how you develop your career but more about your experiences. Someone can come in and experience it for a few hours or be a resident and live your life here.

It feels so strange to have not been there in over a year.

More than ever, the mill is going to be on everyone's agenda, people will be doing so much interesting stuff and the hunger will be there.

Everything all the time will be the slogan!”

Subsequently, the mill have now begun to offer a new support package for people getting into this industry in the form of the 'WEAVE' which is a Creative Enterprise Support Program, hoping to develop new brands, business and individuals to really create a new life within the creative industry. This will be under the umbrella of the Islington Mill Foundation and I can only imagine there is lots more to come and boy are we excited about it! So get in contact with them if you need a hand with something, they may be able to help.

Like this piece started, we really don’t know what is going to happen in the near future, but I think we can confidently put our trust in Islington Mill to point us and help us in the right direction. We will all be together dancing again soon!

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