Fifty years of friendship and finance – meet Babs Nicgriogair

As part of our 50th birthday year, we’re speaking to people who have worked with us in a variety of ways since 1973. Today we speak to Babs Nicgriogair who is part of Greencity Wholefoods – a worker co-operative and wholesaler of fine food and drink based in Glasgow’s vibrant east end about how our support helped not just them, but the cultural community in Glasgow.

“I joined Green City in 2000. Not long after that, the business had to relocate. It had been going since 1978, and it had had a couple of locations before arriving in the east end of Glasgow. What we moved into wasn’t a bespoke food warehouse – it was an old Pickfords removals building near Hey, so it’s like a Furniture Warehouse. There were two buildings: one was an office block, and one was the actual warehouse itself, both on the same site.  Our offices inhabited the bottom floor of the office building, but the other two floors were just derelict.

There was a need for artists’ spaces in Glasgow. The art school was going from strength to strength, its reputation had grown, and the city was really experiencing a cultural revival. There were a lot of artists migrating to the city but didn’t have studio spaces.

So, we thought that actually we could become a cultural landlord, and use the two floors above our office space to house various artists. The funding from ICOF helped us make this happen and it was quite a job!

We did one floor and then we had to wait to do the second one. But now we do have a thriving cultural community at Green City that kind of exists outside our business and does its own thing, but also there is an interface with us from time to time.

We provide a fair rent for cultural tenants, and we have a very low turnover of these tenants. Some are  internationally recognized contemporary artists, some are educationalists. We have a stained glass studio, a recording studio – it’s an incredible place and I’m really proud to have been part of that.

Happy birthday ICOF! or Co-là breith sona ICOF !! as they say in Gaelic”

Read an earlier piece about Green City here – The Borrowers Point of View