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 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. Want to learn more about The Courts? The History of the Courts For young people The Courts Youth Steering Group A Police Court or a People’s Court? The magistrates or police courts were opened in March 1880. They dealt with a range of what were considered minor offences from common assaults to petty theft, to truancy and driving violations. Map detail showing ‘police court’, Ordnance Survey 1898-1939 25” 3rd edition, Know Your Place Bristol https://maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=; Like modern magistrates courts, decisions were made without a jury, leaving the most serious cases to be tried at the jury courts. The police frequently used the courts to regulate public behaviour, prosecuting gambling, drunkenness, and those found begging or just homeless. Fines were regularly issued for ‘loitering’ and even playing football. But men and women from all walks of life came to the courts. The new building had public galleries for up to 50 people, not only ensuring that justice could be seen to be done, but also demonstrating popular interest in the law. The magistrates courts offered access to justice for all Bristolians. In 1881 alone, of the more than 17,000 cases heard here, the majority were brought by local working people. For some of the most vulnerable, the courts provided important protection against cruelty and violence. A Warning to Street Footballers, in a report on the proceedings of Bristol Police or Magistrates Court from the Bristol Mercury, 17 January 1895 Written by R. Wallis Jan 2022 How can we help?