Whitchurch Silk Mill has been awarded £131,550, as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure it has a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced.
Whitchurch Silk Mill is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.
Whitchurch Silk Mill was built around 1815. It is a Grade Two* listed Georgian watermill in a conservation are and sits on the banks of the River Test (a Site of Special Scientific Interest), whose gin-clear waters power its water wheel. It has produced silk yarn since 1817 and has been weaving silk cloth since the 1830s. As a working museum visitors can still see silk being wound, warped and woven on machinery installed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is the oldest working silk mill in the UK.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.
“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”
Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”
Mill Director, Sue Tapliss, said “We are absolutely delighted that DCMS and ACE have made this award to the Mill. We are a unique site, the only place in the UK where visitors can see silk being woven in a traditional way. It will help us recover from the income we’ve lost over 2020 and into 2021 and will help us build in resilience and contingency too. We still have more fundraising to do, but this gives us a chance of a future that’s more than just about surviving.”