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 We build strong communities, which no terrorist act can divide It seems to be the norm that British politics takes over all other news but let’s not forget that over the last three weeks there have been two serious terror attacks in the UK. Terror affects us all! I grew up in London in the 70s and 80s when the IRA bombing campaign was in full swing. My parents’ block of flats was bombed because an MP had their London home there. Thankfully, no one was hurt. In fact, as so many in Manchester and London have shown, it often brings people together. The residents association in my parents’ flat became a hive of activity with neighbours talking to each other in a way they never had before. Our elections, terrorism and Brexit point to less talking and understanding throughout our country – between remainers and Brexiteers, North and South, Muslim and Christian, rich and poor. Our country is becoming more polarised and at the fringes it spills over into hatred, violence and terrorism. When we discuss terrorism, we often describe an ‘act of war’. It is a defined, violent and single act whether perpetrated by a terrorist or an army, but peace is built by a thousand acts. A kind word, a community festival or a diplomatic effort. All of them attempts by people to understand each other. They rarely make the news but they are the foundations of our families, friendships, communities and countries. By learning to understand each other, we build our society on bonds that are far more difficult to break than our formal laws. The work done by charities, youth and community workers to bring communities together, help them understand each other and make friends is part of the bedrock of our stable society. Is the polarisation partly a result of cuts to these services? When the economy tanked in 2008, the country has responded by slowly cutting back on these sorts of ‘non-essential’ activities. Surely, we should have done the opposite. At Creative Youth Network, we still do this – with limited funding and means. Our Welcome Wednesdays group supports newly arrive asylum seekers to learn English, meet new friends and understand British culture. We run city wide gigs, events and even hustings, bringing together young people from across the city. Whether it is young people seen as gangsters from St Paul’s or ‘chavs’ from South Bristol – our aim is to challenge these stereotypes not through rhetoric or new policies but by small acts of friendship and understanding – helping to build peace in the West of England at least. How can we help?