Collage Arts

Big Issue Invest and Collage Arts

Collage Arts is very proud of its relationship with Big Issue Invest. Here we share two reports produced by the BII highlighting the reasons why they wanted to invest in Collage Arts.

Excerpt from Big Issue Invest’s report Our Social Impact published in May 2018

What is Collage Arts? Collage Arts is a leading arts development, training and creative regeneration charity at the heart of the Haringey Cultural Quarter. The old Barratt’s Chocolate Factory in Wood Green had been derelict since 1970. In 1986, Collage Arts arrived as squatters, then took at lease and began renting out affordable studio and office space to help incubate creative and socially engaged businesses. Today the organisation has expanded, offering space across three sites with more to follow, housing over 200 artists. Alongside workspace, Collage also offers an array of programmes aimed at improving employability and creating access to the arts and creative industries for people who have challenges to overcome, including young people who are unemployed, BAME women, care-leavers and people with health problems-among others. Hosting the training and education within the same space as working creative companies enhances the experience, bringing career opportunities to life and contributing to the diversity of a thriving artistic community.

What’s the investment story? Collage Arts has a long-standing relationship with BII. The first investment in 2013 helped the organisation manage cash flow when working on multiple contracts. The two organisations maintained close ties and when Collage Arts expanded into Chocolate Factory 3, BII was a natural choice for financing the refurbishment costs. In early 2018 BII invested in Collage Arts a third time, on this occasion to support a new opportunity to take over a disused post office, repurposing it with a project focusing on career opportunities for local BAME women. BII was attracted by the clear life-changing opportunities on offer and the strong ethos of diversity, inclusion and community that runs through the organisation.

How has investment helped Collage Arts become financially sustainable? Collage Arts is about longevity and nurturing a sustainable artistic community. Over its 35 years of engagement, both the local area and the arts and education funding landscape have changed dramatically. The Collage Arts team have worked hard to re-engineer their business model, engaged with local change, reduced reliance on grant funding and most recently made the best opportunities available as part of the current major “Wood Green transformation” redevelopment plan. BII have offered flexible finance and support with financial planning and forecasting to support Collage Arts through these changes when it couldn’t show the profits or assets that a traditional lender would require.

What has Collage Arts achieved since investment? Since the initial investment in 2013 Collage Arts has developed its workspace rental business while maintaining a strong focus on its mission to engage people from disadvantaged communities. Chocolate Factory 3, which opened in 2016, now houses over 50 artists and the new post office project is expanding its presence in the area further. Collage Arts is now engaging with Haringey Council around “Meanwhile Spaces” – buildings in areas scheduled for redevelopment that need a purpose in the interim.

Manoj Ambasna, Executive Director, says “At Collage Arts, we’re about diversity, inclusion, economic growth and support for entrepreneurism. We manage workspace but it’s not the buildings that are exciting, it’s the relationships that are exciting. We build in access to our social projects, giving people access to creativity in their lives and they gain enormous value from that.”

Investment: £302,000 from November 2013

Outcome areas: Arts, heritage, education, training and employment

Target population: All

The following article featured in The Big Issue magazine (April 14-20, 2014 No.1098)

Big Issue Invest & Collage Arts

Jelly babies, Dolly Mixtures, sherbet fountains… they’re the stuff of childhood dreams.

The old Barratt’s chocolate factory in Wood Green, North London, once churned out all of these and more. But since 1996, this imposing building in the diverse borough of Haringey has served as a dream factory for young people from different social backgrounds who want to do something creative.

The Chocolate Factory is the beating heart of Collage Arts, a charity founded 30 years ago by graphic artist and community arts activist, Manoj Ambasna.

As well as providing office space for 200 creative businesses, The Chocolate Factory is an inspiring arts development and training hub. Their month-long training schemes offer opportunities to black and ethnic minority communities, unemployed and disadvantaged young people across London, with courses leading to 100 creative apprenticeships a year.

And thanks to a £100,000 injection of funds from Big Issue Invest, the wheels keep on turning. As it shares the Big Issue’s ethos of ‘helping people to help themselves’, Collage Arts was granted the loan to help expand their training provision, and support their core activity – to be an incubator for creative businesses. Glenn Arradon, loan manager at Big Issue Invest, said: ‘It was clear to us from the start that the opportunities they offer are life changing, which is why we are keen to support them.

Young People in Audio Studio