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 Responsibility needs to be taken for the decline of Kids Company We’ll all have seen that Camila from Kids Company is back on the scene with her new book. I’m going to start by saying I haven’t read it yet. But I am going to respond to the various news items and letters she has written over the past month or so. And, as a reminder, Creative Youth Network was their Landlord and we were tasked by Bristol City Council to support those young people who were left hanging after the collapse of Kidsco. Most of all I find it such a shame that Camila spends most of her time in the ‘he said, she said’ rhetoric of conspiracy. Her interviews, letters and articles across our media are still rehearsing the old tired accusations of government, funders, the police and anyone else who got in her way. What gets lost in this diatribe is the message she doesn’t spend enough time on. That is the problems facing children’s and young peoples services across the UK. Voluntary and local authority providers all acknowledge that vulnerable Children and Young People receive less support and have less opportunities than they did several years ago. From where Creative Youth Network sits, supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in our city, the statutory services of Youth Offending Teams, CAMHS, Social and Youth Services and others are being cut back to the bone. This leaves staff in both the Statutory and Voluntary sectors stretched to the point where we are not providing the sorts of services that prevent the misery of wasted lives and cost more in the long run. Across the UK, children’s services are struggling to cope with and fund the job of picking up the pieces of these damaged lives. This is the real story of austerity played out in small corners of our towns and cities where young peoples lives do not reach their potential because they don’t have the right support when they need it. Camila talks of this briefly in interviews but spends interview after interview blaming others for the organisational problems she created. As their landlord, Kids Company rarely paid their bills on time and, when Bristol City Council asked Creative Youth Network to pick up the 600 young people Kids Company were working with when they collapsed, we received very incomplete files for 152. We asked repeatedly and no more were forthcoming. I wish Camila would accept some responsibility for what happened. Reserves are there to see you through difficult times – that’s why they are important, money needs to be managed properly and good records of the young people you work with must be kept. By managing our organisations well and accepting responsibility when we get things wrong we can get to the heart of the matter – making sure our vulnerable children and young people receive the support they need! This is a story that needs to be heard!