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 The economic case for a diverse creative enterprise hub – Courting a win-win It’s now three weeks since I joined the team at Creative Youth Network – a vibrant, impactful charity that enables young people to reach their potential, whatever their background or circumstances. One of the projects that really caught my imagination, and made me excited about the prospect of coming to work here, was the proposed redevelopment of the old Bristol Magistrates Courts (The Courts) to create a unique creative enterprise hub. There is already a very strong diversity and inclusion rationale for the project, but how does the economic case stack up? The success of the creative industries Well, the creative sector in the UK is a huge success story, growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, with employment increasing at four times the rate of the rest of the workforce. In Bristol, the creative industries employ more than 16,000 people, their output worth over 12% of the local economy. But, as TechNation’s 2018 creative industry survey shows, there is a scarcity of high-quality workspace for the creative sector. Many businesses are struggling to find the ready-made, high-tech space they need to prosper, and new start-ups are finding move-on space hard to come by. Our transformation of The Courts into a vibrant four-storey creative enterprise hub will deliver new revenue, jobs and work-space, while also transforming an iconic, city-centre landmark into a gem in what is the under-developed opportunity that is Nelson Street. You might wonder why a charity is leading this transformation? The truth is that we are ideally placed to leverage inward investment to overcome the conservation deficit that makes redevelopment of listed buildings a challenge for the private sector; indeed, previous private sector owners of The Courts tried and failed to find a viable way to bring the building back into productive use. As Sir Peter Luff, Chair of National Lottery Heritage Fund argues, “it’s not enough to save something, you’ve got to make it live”, and with our involvement The Courts project will bring to life opportunities that promise big gains for Bristol and the whole of the West of England, including: 28,000ft2 of new office/work space for the creative and tech industries new opportunities for 500 talented but disadvantaged young people each year to get work in these industries through apprenticeships, training and networking £4.85m of Gross Value Added (GVA) into the region annually £5.5m of inward investment from a range of funding sources Delivering social value Importantly for us, given current funding challenges for services for young people, The Courts, along with our other buildings the Kingswood Estate and the Station, will generate a small but crucial annual surplus for us as a charity. This income stream is critical to sustaining Creative Youth Network’s ongoing work supporting the most marginalised and disadvantaged young people in communities across the region – we have always used surpluses from our buildings to cross-subsidise youth clubs, support networks and new opportunities for young people, an area that remains as critical as ever in the face of ongoing public sector funding pressure. We can see further economic synergies in the West of England Local Economic Partnership’s Creative and Digital strategy, where diversity is identified as a “source of creative energy that has the potential to deliver sustained business results and growth”. Idris Elba once said that, whilst talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Our ability to identify and nurture talent in young people from diverse, often marginalised, backgrounds, ensures that the region can benefit from an amazing source of potential creative energy. With 90 languages spoken, an increasingly diverse young workforce will ensure the region is well placed to create relevant content for global audiences, further stimulating increased economic and employment growth. Or to think about it from the flip-side: if Bristol’s creative workforce remains relatively mono-cultural and un-reflective of the diversity of our communities, then how will it remain successful and relevant in its output over the years to come? The Courts will become an asset that meets community and economic needs, while benefiting young people in the region and our increasingly successful creative sectors. This seems a huge win-win to me, but if you’ve got thoughts on how we can make it more so, I’d love to hear them. How can we help?