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 How do you measure a life long journey? I went to the garden centre the other day and lo and behold, when I was purchasing a couple of flower pots, the person behind the counter was James (NB not his real name). James is a young person we’d worked with for a number of years at the Station. We got chatting about old times, how we got the Station up and running together and the various ups and downs in his life over the last three years. At Creative Youth Network, we walked some of that journey with him. I know his experience with us helped James build his confidence and got him his first apprenticeship and then a job. This reminded me of the obvious, but often overlooked, point that life is a journey for all of us. We all have ups and downs, good days and bad. It’s also true that those with difficult starts in life often find themselves having more bad than good.I also know he’s continued to battle with other issues after this success. Struggling with his mental health and body image has, on occasions, affected his ability to work, his relationships and, ultimately, his living arrangements. Yet the work we do is measured in ‘outcomes’ and ‘destinations’, such as increased self-confidence, developing better personal relationships, getting a job, re-joining education. This is very useful for us to know we’re focussing our efforts in the right way and the young people we work with achieve important goals in their lives through working with us. It also helps us explain to those who aren’t in the same sector what we do, how we work and what we strive for. In turn this helps us find funding for our work and so the cycle continues. However, the deeper we get into ‘measuring’ the more I see its limitations. A good day can turn into a bad one for many young people in the blink of an eye. A young person came into our office today, having arrived at a new workplace to start his apprenticeship only to be told there’d been an ‘administrative error’ and he was no longer needed. He was gutted, his dreams of being able to support himself and get his life going again having been dashed. But on our outcomes sheet he has been ‘in employment’ and we can tick that box, as he managed to get through the door. Of course, our dedicated staff sat down with him straight away, putting aside other work they need to do. They helped him calm down and started the process of looking for something else. However, his work isn’t measured. The immediate response he got, someone to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault and the support of having someone to listen and guide him through. Not is the relationship we built with him so that we were the first place he turned to when things went wrong. Teachers, nurses, social workers, youth workers – they’re all being asked to measure what they do, but it is worth remembering none of us has ‘arrived’ at our destination yet – we only reach points along the way. How can we help?