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 Tackling youth loneliness The Co-op Foundation reports that 16-24 year olds feel lonely more often than any other age group, with nearly two thirds (65%) of young people seeing it as a problem for their peer group. Loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety and stress. It is an important enough issue for the Government and the Co-op Foundation to announce £2 million of funding for a youth strand of a wider Building Connections fund set up in response to the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. Of course some teenagers have always felt lonely. Febrile relationships between young people have meant some feel left out, bullied or like they don’t fit in and those who seem to be the most popular can feel isolated too. Pressure to achieve good exam results, poverty or just being different (for example, being LGBT+) have meant that some young people simply withdraw from the world. But something new is happening in young people’s lives that means loneliness can reach a whole new level, and the darker side of the internet is playing a key role in exacerbating these difficulties. Social media The breadth of content on YouTube, Instagram and other social media sites is so huge that it is possible to find a whole other life there. If you are into model building, there are vast numbers of videos that show you the best models in the world; if you want to watch famous Youtubers pranking others or trying crazy stuff, you can spend all day with them, laughing and being a part of their world. The nature of modern media is that you feel like you are there. Filmed on a phone or tiny camera you become part of the group, sitting opposite, running with them, watching as they play the latest computer game. For those young people who struggle with their peer groups this is, initially, an appealing world of fun, fascination and belonging. An easy world where there are few consequences and where you can feel part of the gang. Because it’s beguiling, it draws you away from the world you live in and makes it all the more frightening and uncomfortable. Now, of course, most young people see that for what it is, pull themselves out, enjoy what the internet, gaming and social media have to offer and then talk with friends back at school or in the youth club. But those who are vulnerable can get drawn into this world and travel down the vicious cycle of feeling isolated, spending more time online, falling behind in their social skills and feeling further isolated. Add to this the successful lives we all appear to have on social media – others posting about holidays, friendships, getting a first job, all add to a sense of isolation or failure. These young people often fall below the radar of services that look for anti-social behaviour, abuse, being out of work or even mental health. They are often at home causing ‘no trouble’ and therefore get no help. At Creative Youth Network we see young people who have not left their home for months, have no physical social life and are falling into a spiral of depression and joblessness. Because there are no immediate dangers, support services pass them by until crisis point when a return to normality is often very difficult. Technology is turning society on its head. We haven’t yet learned to live with it and we are only really beginning to understand its power, both good and bad. Safe spaces to develop relationships based on trust I don’t have the answer to all of these changes, but I do know that our youth clubs and other spaces and the work of our teams and partners play a crucial role in enabling young people to develop and maintain social contact with their peers, and build relationships with trusted people. We actively reach out to those under the radar teenagers to provide a safe space to develop their social skills and friendships. In combination with our courses and mentoring programmes, we are enabling young people to create solid relationships based on trust that will be there when life gets tough or opportunities present themselves. This is something that YouTube and Instagram will never be able to replace, and as a society we need to invest far more in ensuring young people can access the spaces and support they need to develop the relationships that are essential to them reaching their potential. How can we help?