European Development Grant awarded to Islington Mill

We are thrilled and inspired to have been awarded £3.3m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

From its outset as an artist-led endeavour, Islington Mill has been looking out beyond its walls and city towards the wider world. Over our twenty years, we have invited creative people to Salford from across Europe and the world to share their stories and knowledge, and to make new work in our city.

This grant represents the final part of European funding support to Britain from the EU.

We will use this funding to secure long-term space and support for the arts and local communities and to make strong and long lasting ties with our European neighbours, which we believe is crucial at this moment in time.

Alongside this, the funding enables us to offer vital and timely support to Salford and Manchester based creative people wishing to develop their careers and businesses. We hope that this will provide many creative businesses with a lifeline in these tough times.

Since the beginning, Islington Mill has been resolutely artist-owned and artist-led. For us ‘artist-led’ means artists lending their creativity to the leadership of an organisation, and not giving up their creativity in service to it, which is too often the way. During our time, we have seen many of our peer-organisations come and go, due to a lack of support and individual exhaustion and burn-out.

While it has been a long and arduous journey to raise these essential funds, we believe that these renovations mean that Islington Mill can now create a future that is unencumbered by the worries that come with occupying old and unstable buildings. It means that this part of Salford will remain affordable or free for creative and community use for the long-term future, instead of unaffordable private apartments which have been the fate of many other areas in Greater Manchester that claim to have been ‘regenerated’.

We can now continue building a flourishing artist-led environment of living, working and being, and we are beginning this in a number of ways. We are planning a new co-programmed venue within our wider site, ‘The Other City’, initially working with a group of artist-led organisations to develop this resource, and through collaboration, continue to create a growing creative network that is outward looking, and that connects locally, regionally and internationally.

As well as being a place to work and meet, Islington Mill has been a place to live, starting with Bill Campbell and Maurice Carlin making the building their home, alongside a number of other artists. With this living history in mind, we are exploring the possibilities of a ‘Queer Home’ – a shared live-work space within one of our soon-to-be refurbished spaces. To initiate this idea, we have invited a few artists to move into our B&B space to explore what a ‘queer home’ could mean in practice, and from here discover the potentials for co-living, co-creating, and co-imagining through lived experience and connection with others far and wide.

The world is in a tidal wave, we at Islington Mill, are actively engaging and with transparency, re-imagining how we can be, and be together, in the world. “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made …” John Schaar. The way we choose to be, taking a fully conscious caring place as part of the system of the whole world of humans, all living beings, and nature will determine our survival. To this end, fundamental changes to our thinking and doing are now required. The future is in taking courageous steps.