The Noah’s Arc of The Arts

“We call it the Noah’s arc of The Arts”. The Mill is an idea in motion, for artists from all fields share a space at a subsidized price. It’s also a platform for artists to engage and foster new ideas with each other, to create a diverse, artistic hub in the middle of our city.

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On Monday, an idea was put into fruition. A group of colorful people walked, rode, and skipped through the streets of Adelaide, and spelt the word ‘imagine’ with their bodies out the front of the Adelaide City Council offices.

The demonstration was an opus from a broader idea birthed by locals, Amber Cronin and Erin Fowler, with the aim of showcasing just how vibrant and creative Adelaide can be.

The broader idea is ‘The Mill’, a new and exciting independent project with the aim to support local artists by providing a physical space, which allows them to work on and showcase their productions.

“We wanted to show the Council that there’s a potential for a good partnership because while they have the funds, we have the connections and the know-how to promote a more vibrant city,” says Fowler.

The idea behind the project started separately between Amber and Erin. For Amber it stemmed from a previous project she founded called ‘Fourwords’, which similarly aimed at promoting local artists.

“I realized there was a need for more structured work spaces for artists. I could see artists liked to work together, collaboratively, making genuine friendships, but they also needed well equipped facilities to enable and encourage their work,” says Cronin.

Erin is a graduate in dance at the Adelaide College of the Arts and began producing her own work last year. Although The Australian Dance Theatre allowed her to use their own space, Fowler realized an emergence in the need for more spaces to rehearse, teach and cultivate one’s craft.

So what exactly is The Mill?

“We call it the Noah’s arc of The Arts,” says Cronin.

“It’s a place for artists from all fields, from dancers, painters, writers and costume designers to share a space at a subsidized price. It’s also a platform for artists to engage and foster new ideas with each other, to create a diverse, artistic hub in the middle of our city.”

The Mill will house a dance rehearsal and exhibition hall and group and individual studios, equipped with an infinity photographic wall. It will also have a general office area for freelance artists to use as ‘rented addresses’.

As well as physical space and facilities, The Mill will offer forums, discussion panels and information sessions and informal showings of new work and ideas ‘to encourage shared dialogue about creative work and art practice development’.

The proposal and idea of The Mill is in full motion, but Fowler and Cronin are challenged with limited initial funding and the physical space to house the project.

“We feel like we are ready to go, we just need the start-up money and the actual space. The space we need relies heavily on the specific requirements, for example specific dance flooring, somewhere that’s inner city space and is actually big enough,” says Fowler.

Although The Mill receives industry support in terms of advice and network connections from Renew Adelaide, Australia Business Arts Foundation and Helpmann Academy, Fowler and Cronin say monetary funding is what is needed now.

There are several grants offered by Arts SA and various other organizations but Fowler says they are targeted to arts projects and there is no funding for administration or facilitation available.

“In order to progress with our initiative, we need money to spend on the space itself, but there is no help with the initial upfront cost,” says Fowler.

The immediate ambition for Fowler and Cronin is to promote their project and encourage public dialogue, which will hopefully invite sponsorship and funding.

“Apart from asking your rich uncle to sponsor us, people can make a tax free donation through Australia Business Arts Foundation, but also simple things such as ‘liking’ our Facebook Page or just talking about it with your friends,” says Cronin.

The Mill team says the somewhat parroted view that Adelaide is lifeless and boring is a stale sentiment.

“Instead of saying Adelaide needs this or Adelaide needs that, start becoming part of the integral change you want to see in this city, by supporting projects like The Mill.”

Images curtesy of Erick Watson Photography

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