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 Our approach to funding cuts Creative Youth Network is growing, as we take on the new Targeted Youth Service Contract in Bristol and a new partnership in South Gloucestershire. I’m proud that we are bucking the trend where many organisations are getting smaller as local authority and government cuts bite. Because we are bucking that trend we are able to help more young people than ever before. I’m not a believer in cuts. I believe where there is a will there is a way and that we don’t have to simply accept what is handed to us. Whether that be as an individual, an organisation or even at a city level. A polarised argument in the response to cuts The cuts (not just in youth services) have tended to create a polarised argument: those who accept them or those who want to protest against them. If we accept them, we usually end up managing decline – initially finding new ways of working but then ultimately having to reduce the service available to the most vulnerable. When we protest, we can make noise and even change a decision or two, but find our lack of answers ultimately leads to further disenchantment and little change. I have done both but have found there is a third way. Spending time growing a solution provides a far more powerful argument for change, makes a real difference to the lives of those we want to help here and now, and shows us how the future might look. In effect creating that future as the old ways decline. This approach takes time and patience and requires a clear vision for what the future can hold and a willingness to persevere, even though the end might seem impossible. More than that, it requires some willingness to let others take control. That is why, at Creative Youth Network, our work with partners is so important. At the moment we have over 20 sub contractors and organisations we are in a formal partnership with, ranging from small community groups, to arts organisations and large companies. When we share a vision with others this collaboration creates a energy that means those with resources, power and money often feel inspired. Against a backdrop of cuts and difficult decisions, this vision gives hope that people want to be a part of and means resources begin to flow. Partnership work Our most recent example has been the youth work we do in South Glos. By working with the local authority to manage the cuts they have been forced into, we have led a partnership of local organisations that has secured funding from BIG lottery, Parish and town Councils that now means more money is going into youth work in the county than was available before the cuts started. Our new contract running the Targeted Youth Service in Bristol is another great example of partnership work meaning we can maintain almost all the existing youth services in the city (and even start a few new ones). Our partners and shared vision are key to this success and will mean we can provide more young people with the support they need in the years to come. How can we help?