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.   

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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

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.

It is envisaged young people looking to develop their own creative businesses, or starting out as young professionals in the sector, will be able to rent various incubator enterprise workshop spaces on a short-term and quick-release basis.

A dance performance with live music inspired by civil and human rights movements

Rights to Move is coming back!

Join us for free at the M-shed, on 28th October, from 12pm. Drop in throughout the day and come celebrate our rights. Free event, on a drop in basis.

In a democratic land where we have the right to vote and the right to have our voices heard, we see a story of human rights following the path of restriction, control and conditioning.

Rights to Move is a live promenade performance of dance and music asking what does it actually mean to have rights, whose rights are they anyway and what difference do they make?

About the project 

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Young Roots Fund, Creative Youth Network has given young people aged 16 – 25 years old the opportunity to learn about the heritage of Bristol and the role it played in the civil and human rights movements. Young people throughout Creative Youth Network Youth Clubs have been encouraged to talk about what their rights are and why it’s important to help shape rights for future generations.

We're proud to have been working with Tribe Dance Theatre and Rise Youth Dance Company, alongside support from local historian, Dr Edson Burton and Bristol Museums and Archives. These partnerships have enabled young people to create a new, visual and immersive piece of dance theatre that reflects our heritage and the role Bristol played in the rights of those nationally and internationally.

Rights to Move

We are tired and frustrated. Our generation is the first one to be worst off than the previous one. I voted for the first time in this election and that made me feel great, like I actually can change things. That’s why now I want to share this with other people, through dance and stories

Jenny (18)

Journey to Justice

This performance is part of the Journey to Justice programme of events. The touring exhibition focused on the civil rights movement is coming to Bristol in October and we are kicking off the discussion by engaging young people in our youth clubs in discussions about rights all throughout the summer. 

Our Creative Courses are also producing work in photography, film, fashion and music around the theme of rights during our summer term. 

Find out more about Journey to Justice.

Booking for this event has now closed.

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