How can a building make you smile?Reimagining and redeveloping The Courts Imagine a place where a young person’s background, race, beliefs, gender, physical ability and economic status had nothing to do with how good they could be, what they could achieve. A space where they could fully explore their creative potential, receive support and mentoring, and find meaningful work. That place is the Old Bristol Magistrates Courts (The Courts). An enterprise centre to help young people set up their own creative businesses and develop their opportunities. A place where there are no barriers to their future, where the only things that count are their abilities and talents. Thanks to the The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Bristol City Council we are developing detailed business and architectural plans to reimagine and redevelop this historic city landmark as a place that will complement Bristol’s renowned and growing creative industries sector. To get involved and keep up to date with our progress, sign up to our newsletter. The Problem with Creativity The Creative Surplus UK creative industries are a true success story. They are growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, while employment in the sector grows at four times the rate of the national workforce. Creative industries form a key sector of UK industry, generating around £92 billion per annum and contributing more than 5% of the UK economy (DCMS, 2017). Taken as a whole, the creative industries employ about 15,900 people in the Bristol and Bath area. The region’s creatives are estimated to be 50% more productive than the UK average and productivity in creative businesses across Bristol and Bath has increased by 106% since 1999. The Creative Deficit All those positive statistics mask stark reminders about how inequality and other disadvantages are stopping many very able young people from entering the creative industries. White people hold 88% of the jobs and only 11% are occupied by BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people. Men dominate the sector holding 63% of the jobs. In the gaming industry, a creative field in which the UK excels, 86% of jobs are held by men, 96% by white people. It is also significantly difficult if a young person comes from state education. Since 2010, there has been a 28% drop in the number of students taking creative GCSEs, with a corresponding drop in the number of specialist arts teachers. Our Solution The Courts will throw open the doors to creativity through an open, enabling and supportive environment for those talented but disadvantaged or marginalised young people seeking to enter the creative industries. Floor by floor plan Basement It is envisaged the basement level (the old cell block) will contain incubator space and enterprise workshops for young people. Our plan is to let this space on a short-term and quick-release basis for people looking to develop a business, or starting out as a young professional. Ground floor The ground floor currently has four courtrooms, one of which will be restored to its original condition and offered as a film, television and performance location. The remaining rooms will be developed into lettable spaces for multipurpose use. These will include space for Creative Youth Network services, for creative industries, youth participation work, performance, gallery exhibition and a bar/café.A public entry will ensure everyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use the same entrance. First, second & third floors The first, second and third floors will provide 1,115m² of high-quality office space let commercially and accommodating around 110 workers. These tenant organisations will share our organisational values and ethos for the building.A new lift will connect all four floors, again ensuring full access, while the old staircase will be retained as a heritage feature. We are also considering a green-roof across some of the open spaces covering the rooftop to complement the high-spec insulation, heating and cooling, and energy conservation measures planned to ensure The Courts has the lowest possible environmental impact. About us Blog A day in the studio with Gecko Theatre In Creative Youth Network's gorgeous dance studio there's a buzzing atmosphere. A cohort of 20 young creatives wait to start the day’s session, hungry to learn from the professional theatre makers leading a full day’s workshop. When you walk into a room with Gecko Theatre, you feel instantly infused with excitement. Their demeanour mixes a calmness with a passion that makes it clear; these theatre makers wholly secure in their practice. Kate and Ryan lead us through some initial warm up games. Simple favourites, such as learning three facts about your partner and pass the clap around the circle, are given new meaning and purpose by the softly assertive team of two. They move us onto the more complex work of adding mumbles and muttering to our movement around the room. Their games focus on finding the emotion behind the physical. Whilst remaining aware of the difference between finding the emotion and forcing it. Underlying everything Gecko teach is a deep understanding that emotion is the cause of the movement, yet movement can often be the spark of emotion for a performer. From allowing our bodies to move like seaweed and feeling out where that leads us emotionally, to finding the passion in rhythmic stamping, movement and clapping the day flows from one exercise to another. The young creatives are exhausted yet invigorated, all of us unable to try out the exercises we’ve learnt in the rehearsal room. Yet it is not their skill and practice that left me in such deep awe Gecko. The company create work that transcends class, sex, race or language by looking at the very heart of what it is to be human. Their work is uniquely accessible, understandable and global. I have no doubt it’s what makes them so successful, and blindingly passionate in a world that contains an awful lot of beige theatre. How can we help?