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Islington Mill builds on its success thanks to Grants for the arts

  • Date: 15 December 2010
  • Area: North
Lamp lit corridor in urban warehouse venue and studios

Islington Mill . Credit: Nat Heaton

The Islington Mill arts centre in Salford is going from strength to strength following the successful re-opening of its performance space and art gallery, which were refurbished with the support of a Grants for the arts award from the Arts Council.

Islington Mill provides workspace for the creative industries, houses more than 50 creative entrepreneurs ranging from fashion designers to welders, a gallery space, and hosts exhibitions and concerts, including the annual Sounds From The Other City festival.

A former cotton-spinning mill located in the Chapel Street area at the heart of Salford's growing creative quarter, Islington Mill was acquired in 2001 by local arts graduate, Bill Campbell who wanted to establish a creative hub which facilitates innovation, ideas and experimentation.

The £50,000 Grants for the arts award, which was matched by funding from the Central Salford Urban Regeneration company (CSURC) through Salford City Council, enabled Islington Mill Arts Club to extensively refurbish its performance space and art gallery.

After four months of work, the mill launched its refurbished spaces in October.

Public access and facilities have been improved and Islington Mill now has regular public opening hours each Thursday and Friday. Audience numbers are increasing, the centre is able to expand the number and type of events it hosts, and it has further established its position at the heart of Salford's creative quarter.

The refurbished spaces have already hosted a number of very successful events, with lots more to come.

On 25 November, Islington Mill's annual contemporary crafts fair offered a range of beautiful pieces created by the mill's residents.

The gallery, with the NICE Festival, presented work by 13 by Seven, a collective of contemporary artists originating from a six-week residency programme at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Skaelskor, Denmark.

In October, the first part of a collaboration between Islington Mill and the Working Class Movement Library (WCML) Object Lessons, brought to the centre an unlikely collection of functional, domestic objects that upon close examination each paid homage to the Labour movement. After two weeks and the contribution of seven artists working live in the gallery space, responses were made to the objects, considering the ideas they embody and the motives for production.

Musical highlights have included concerts by some of the most talked about bands of the year including Wavves, Sun Araw, Wu Lyf, D/R/U/G/S and Salem, who made their Manchester debut at the end of this month.

This December, Islington Mill's refurbished performance space will be one of the venues for a special series of concerts for the festive season from the organisers of the Sounds From The Other City festival. Sounds Like Another Christmas at Islington Mill will include appearances by Moon Duo and Truman's Water, among others.

Describing the steps forward Islington Mill has made thanks to the refurbishment, director Mark Carlin, said: 'The new spaces in the mill have given the whole place a new lease of life and it's incredible how many amazingly diverse activities have happened there. We are really looking forward to next year and are already planning what will hopefully be some very memorable events.'

Chris Bye, Relationship Manager, Music, Arts Council England, added: 'The iconic Islington Mill has for years been one of Salford and Manchester's creative hubs. The refurbishment of both gallery and performance space means the Mill is better placed than ever to break new ground, increase collaborations with other arts organisations and bring innovative work to a new and wider audience. With its genuine and unique sense of community and bold, defiant style of programming, the Mill will no doubt be a vital part of the North West cultural offer for a very long time to come.'

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You can also watch a short video about how Islington Mill has established itself as a key part of Creative Salford here