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 theatre can change young people's lives As we find ourselves at the start of another year it gives us a chance to look back on what’s taken place over the last and make new plans and resolutions for the next. It’s certainly given me the chance to think about all of the amazing work the Creative Youth Network has done, all of the young people we’ve engaged with and the artistic projects that helped young people figure out who they want to be and identify a pathway forwards in life. There is without doubt one project that jumps out at me which we did last year, which I feel represents why we do what we do as a charity and left me feeling immensely proud as 2016 came to a close. That project was our in-house Christmas theatre production, The Christmas Turkey. During the Christmas period we see an increase in support needs from young people suffering with loneliness, poverty, homelessness and mental health issues. The Christmas Turkey was an opportunity for us to share their stories, real life experiences of what Christmas means to communities of Bristol, whilst giving young people aged 16 to 25 years old the opportunity to get involved in a high quality cultural activity during the winter. Two months, over 60 young people, one production The project began in October with workers throughout our youth club networks asking those they were working with ‘What does Christmas mean to you?’. The groups we worked with included our Creative Careers programme of those who are young and out of education or employment, right through our Welcome Wednesday sessions for refugees and asylum seekers. We also partnered with Bristol Nightstop, WECIL Listening Partnership and 1625 Independent People to enable us to have as diverse a conversation as possible. These conversations opened up ways for young people to then get involved as cast members, technicians and assistants on the project helping on everything from designing the set to writing the script. They also informed the script itself with nearly all of the conversations being used so that the voices you heard in the play were those of real people. Overall the project engaged with over 50 young people through youth provision in Bristol, with a further 7 who went onto shadow the professional theatre practitioners on the project, and 4 who volunteered as Front of House staff. The show was a huge success and we sold out all five performances. Audiences came from all over Bristol and further afield, and included members of the general public and those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a theatre show at Christmas. By offering a ‘pay what you can’ system it made attending affordable and welcomed in groups from youth clubs and other charities. One of the most amazing journeys to watch though was that of the engagement of the cast. 10 young people from incredibly diverse and complex backgrounds that we’ve ever worked with on an in-house production. Members of the cast included young people who suffer from mental health issues, disabilities, are LGBT, find themselves out of work and even homelessness, but to look at them and to have seen their beautiful performances you’d have had no idea. For me the part that left me speechless on the opening night and bursting with pride was how the cast and crew worked as a group coming together from different walks of life. Our sessions with them started in November and brought them together as a company of young actors and creatives at least three times a week. Not once was there judgement or lack of equality amongst them. They were sensitive and understanding and when faced with the challenge of the stories we were telling, some of which were dark and upsetting, they handled them with care and consideration for those who they’d originally come from. This for me was the success and showed that we could work with young people from all backgrounds and provide access to provision that they’d not otherwise be given to create something meaningful, heart-warming and provide a platform for otherwise unheard voices to be shared. To finish this blog I’d rather you read and hear the words from those who we worked with: How can we help?