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 What my East Africa trip taught me about youth work I’ve just cycled across East Africa – 2500km of the most amazing scenery, wonderful people, culture and wildlife – so inevitably I am going to write a blog about the perspective on work it has given me. I know it is a bit of a cliché but most of us spend most of our time thinking about funding bids, influencing policy, trying to get others to support our view of the world and the good we are trying to do. We bemoan the cuts in services and inefficiencies of government but there is nothing like seeing a different, and far more disadvantaged, part of the world to put our trials and tribulations into perspective. A cliché, which holds some truth, is that young people in the UK have no idea how lucky they are. Even those with the most tragic backgrounds have some protection from social services, an honest police force and a benefits system that gives the opportunity for education and, at least, a bare minimum of guaranteed income. Many of the children we saw in Africa slept rough and their ability to eat on any given day was dictated by the amount of motorbikes they cleaned or chewing gum they sold (there were probably many others doing far worse things in the shadows). But sometimes this hardship leads to an entrepreneurship that puts all of us to shame. Anything can be bought and sold anywhere at any time from a crate of beer to a new tyre in the middle of the night. Kids would offer to clean our bikes to earn a little extra. And then there is the dancing! Over the past 10 years Creative Youth Network has organised gigs, concerts, dance competitions and more. But I see three categories of young dancers in Britain. First, the serious dancers – those looking to make a profession out of it – ballet, hip-hop, breaking and more. These are people who practice their art with their friends but usually in a closed group. Secondly, the moshers – cynically they may have downed a small bottle of vodka before having a whale of a time enjoying their favourite band. Finally, there are those who don’t dance (probably a majority) – it’s just too embarrassing. In Uganda, we camped on a school playground one night and the entire school – unprompted by teachers, came out to play and dance for us. A single drum and the voices of a hundred teenagers and children created and energy, excitement and passion unrivalled by anything young Brits could produce. You could see they held nothing back and just enjoyed themselves.There’s not necessarily a deeper meaning behind this but as someone who loves dancing I couldn’t help but be enthralled by their passion for it. Our ordered western world is safer, more efficient and more inclusive but I can’t help but miss some of that wild creative energy that burst from every pore of the countries we crossed. It felt a bit like the Wild West but that just made life more vivid for a month.