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. Village Basics If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an equally connected community of interested parties to raise an artist. Back in the early 2000’s, an 11 year old Deepraj took part in his first dance project at Kuumba, then a thriving community arts hub. We were running a boy’s dance and music project based on computer gaming. When that project ended, the boys stayed and Deepraj became one of a regular cohort of boys at Kuumba who now practice dance professionally – Frankie Johnson, Bryn Thomas, Ramelle Williams and Liam Wallace. They worked with guest artists like Laila Diallo, Kwesi Johnson, Irven Lewis, ACE Dance & Music and RJC and we were able to take them to see companies like Union Dance and Electric Boogaloos and one memorable night at the QEH Theatre, the maestro that is Benji Reid. Looking at them now, those opportunities read like a blueprint to artistic greatness. It was better funded days, certainly, but that cohort of boys supported each other, held each other up, trusted each other through the vulnerability of improvisation and pushed each other forward. They were a special generation, but there was no magic in how they were able to become special. Some of them went to schools that offered GCSE Dance, but most didn’t. Dance was a leap of faith into the unknown. For most, it still is. Those boys shared an unspoken solidarity as a group of young men in the inner city, pursuing the most un-macho of activities. There’s unbound strength in solidarity. But Deepraj didn’t just magically appear at Kuumba’s door. That was the village in action. Deeps had been doing capoeira at Easton Community Centre where his mum, Hardeep then worked on reception. The capoeira teacher, Jack, was our project’s music lead; he told them about the dance work and Hardeep brought Deeps along. Sometimes it isn’t just about signposting people to opportunities, it’s about walking through the door with them or taking the door to where they are. Despite arts funding and education cuts, we are still that village. We can still all be that hand that walks someone into their first creative opportunity, finding other guiding hands along the chain of a lifetime’s creativity. Dance truly is better together, in so many ways. It takes a village to raise an artist. In 2014, Katy suggested Deepraj contact Creative Youth Network at The Station to see if there was any support he could get as a graduate Dancer in Bristol. From there he took part in their production of Cinderella, went onto their Alumni programme for emerging young artists, choreographed elements of their show A Thousand Dreadful Things and appeared in their production of The Edge. Deepraj is the first artist under 26 that Creative Youth Network has commissioned to make one of their in-house productions. Rooted is on at The Station from the 25th - 27th July. Tickets are £1 - £20 and can be booked here. How can we help?