Who are they and what do they do?
Arts At The Mill CIC trading as The Old Courts is a multi-arts centre in the heart of Wigan. Born into a time when there was no access to arts & culture for Wigan’s 326,000 residents, Arts At The Mill and 121 volunteers transformed a derelict building into the beating heart of Wigan’s community. Now home to a bar, cafe, theatre and live music spaces as well as space for retail and studio/office/desk rental, the venue's work is designed to introduce the arts into the lives of the people of Wigan and beyond and to enhance the experience of those who are engaged.
One of The Old Court's tenants are Northern Heart Films, an award-winning independent film production company, specialising in documentaries and storytelling.
Northern Heart Films believe that Wigan is the perfect location for their business – more and more opportunities are shifting out of London and commissioners are keen to support artists working in the North.
Business owners, Scott and Natasha say The Old Courts is the perfect home for their business – they were drawn to the multi-purpose nature of the building, and that it is home to lots of local creative businesses and community groups. The newly renovated studio space at The Old Courts meets their needs perfectly. They also love the flexible Apex space where they can hold meetings with clients and partners.
They see huge potential for collaboration once the pandemic is over and they can really get to know their neighbours.
What funding did they recieve and how has it helped?
The Old Courts recieved £250,000 of Emergency Investment; funding offered to support organisations that had been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 crisis but been unable to access suitable or sufficient investment from existing support schemes offered at the time.
The loan came at a critical time for the multi-purpose venue and creative hub as they entered a period of uncertainty with the impact of the pandemic hitting culture, leisure and hospitality businesses very hard. The loan alleviated risks to the organisation whilst they focused on applying for and securing emergency funds from a range of other sources, including Government emergency funds for hospitality and Arts Council grants for cultural organisations.
What impact has the funding had?
Pre-pandemic, The Old Courts' income was 87% earned and 13% raised. Post-pandemic, it is closer to 50-50. They estimate that it will take up to two years to get back to a place near to their pre-pandemic ratio, and just as long for customers and audiences to feel confident about accessing public spaces & to have the income to spend on culture and leisure. Whilst they re-grow their earned income, the loan provides security and serves as a buffer against the impact of any possible future lockdowns and a predicted diminishing of future pandemic-related external financial support.