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 Jeremy Corbyn visits The Station Some of you may have seen a photo I posted last week of my meeting with Jeremy Corbyn. He popped into my office and chatted for 45 minutes before making a speech at The Station on why we should stay in the EU. It was a shock to say the least! At the beginning of the day we knew the Labour Party had booked space at The Station but didn't know what for. By 11am there was a rumour that Marvin Rees and Jeremy were going to be there. On the off chance that I might get a couple of minutes with them in their busy schedules I cancelled my afternoon meetings (sorry Paivii!) and ‘hung around’ feeling a bit redundant and stupid – like a teenager waiting for a pop star. Feeling like I ought to do something useful while waiting, I worked in the office upstairs when Derek, our Estates Director, walked in with a person it took me a few seconds to recognise. Meeting a public figure often takes a while to register, you feel you know them but have never met them. Despite knowing he was in the building, seeing Jeremy Corbyn in the office still took me by surprise. We sat down with a cup of tea and the cogs in my brain started whirring trying to think about how best to use the undoubtedly short time I would have with the leader of the Labour Party - 5 minutes at best I thought. 45 minutes later we were still talking. Shooting the breeze with a young person who walked in too - talking about youth, politics, the Middle East and the EU. It is so rare to get this much time with someone at the top of ‘the system’ but it was a real privilege. He genuinely listened and discussed the issues seriously. On Ujima Radio later in the day he commented on making youth services a statutory duty if he became PM. I have no idea if our conversation helped confirm this but clearly it’s a good thing from Creative Youth Network’s point of view and one I would wholeheartedly agree with. After speaking with Joey Essex (from TOWIE) in the chill out area and listening to a song from a young person, Jeremy went on to make his speech. Afterwards he spent an hour in the café talking to anyone and everyone there. This, I learned, is how he operates. I have a number of mixed thoughts about the afternoon. With his uncompromising and passionate views he has managed to galvanise a mass of supporters who had given up on politics. His ‘army’ of volunteers should not be underestimated. President Obama mobilised the masses when he won the US election first time around. The voter turnout and margin of victory for Marvin Rees at the mayoral elections in Bristol has to owe something to the ‘Corbyn effect’. However, in the discussions we had it felt he was struck with the theory of the capitalist state where the motivations of those in power are simply to maintain that power. I think it is too easy to espouse ‘motherhood and apple pie’ policies that no one can disagree with when not in power. But l)eadership requires hard choices in messy situations - that's why we hate politicians so much. From Syria to housing in Bristol, leaders must make decisions on where to put limited resources; making judgements not between ‘good and evil’ but between one good cause and another, between one evil and another. Jeremy absolutely challenged the notion of the ‘busy leader’ who can spend only a few minutes in each meeting in order to spread his wisdom, thoughts or decisions to as many people as possible. This was not a man who sought photo opportunities or shallow encounters but wanted to meet people and find out what they think. This is a quality I have to admire - being present with everyone you encounter is a real skill and one that makes us all feel valued. My parting thought is that good leaders challenge us to think differently. I shall always remember, and be grateful for, the time he spent with us in a way no other public figure has. How can we help?