A few short weeks ago, the artist business incubator’s future looked shaky.
The threat that it would have to shut its doors at the end of the year did not come from lack of interest by new artist businesses.
Surprisingly, it was the success of The Mill co-creators Amber Cronin and Erin Fowler’s business model which led the duo to their tough decision.
With the incubator at capacity after growing businesses quickly filled the studios, the pair was exhausted, desperate, sharing a wage, but still on-site week after week supporting fledgling businesses.
The pressure of running a productive place to nurture and exhibit some 40 new businesses had come to a head and drastic action was needed to support the supporters.
Reaction to The Mill’s imminent closure from business, artistic and government communities was immediate – and positive.
Premier Jay Weatherill joined the Committee for Adelaide to announce a $30,000 grant to salvage the incubator.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed,” Cronin told InDaily of the rescue package.
“There’s a lot more work for us to do but it’s great news for our residents.
“It’s a huge relief to them.”
The Mill was established in 2013 with start-up funds provided through an Australian Council for the Arts JUMP Mentorship grant and a two-year rental subsidy through Renew Adelaide.
While the business learning curve was strenuous, the experience has led them to develop a new facet of the business model, incorporating commercial and corporate involvement at the hub.
Through a $10,000 grant from the Committee of Adelaide, the hub will now be open for hire to corporate and commercial groups.
“There’s been lots of businesses which want to support us but we haven’t had a structure in place,” Cronin said.
“Philanthropy is a little bit tricky in South Australia but if you can get government and businesses to support you, it’s pretty special.”
Weatherill said $20,000 from the Government would increase the operational capacity and also help develop a business strategy to build income streams and create a more sustainable future for the hub.
“The Mill does great work in helping young artists and entrepreneurs transform their art and ideas into commercial enterprises,” he said.
“It is important we nurture business incubators such as The Mill which has been a large contributor to Adelaide’s vibrancy.”
Committee for Adelaide general manager Matt Clemow said the group was “thrilled” to continue the partnership.
“This arrangement means members and participants in the committee’s 50-odd annual events, meetings and presentations can get exposure to the activities at The Mill and see first hand the infectious enthusiasm and entrepreneurship.
“We strongly believe this will attract more events to the space and more revenue for The Mill.
“We look forward to finalising these arrangements and are very happy to be able to work alongside the State Government in helping The Mill grow their business.”
The Committee for Adelaide is a not-for-profit forum focused on the city’s growth and future attractors.