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 Cultural awareness is a necessity October is Black History Month in the UK, a time when all of us celebrate black contributions to British society. As we see councils being condemned for the re-branding of Black History Month, we believe there has never been a more important time to celebrate it. Our belief in celebrating black culture and achievements means that we want all of our staff to have the opportunity to gain insight into Bristol's local BME communities. This helps build professional and personal cultural competence and confidence for our frontline and management staff. Around the world in five stops The first people you meet when you come to The Station are our estates staff. Our reception area is where you're welcomed and offered information. Young people need to trust not only our youth workers, but also anyone who they see on a regular basis. They need to feel welcomed and be comfortable enough to ask our receptionists where they can get support. That's why during the summer we found it important to organise an away day for our estates staff to go on a SARI cultural awareness tour. We already welcome a wide range of people to The Station, including our Welcome Wednesday session specifically for young asylum seekers and refugees, and we're always keen to improve our services by raising our knowledge and understanding of Bristol's ever more diverse young communities. On the day, we visited three religious buildings: a Hindu Temple, a Mosque and a Sikh Temple and had talks from leaders in the Gypsy/Traveller and Somali communities. It was very interesting to see how each differed with regards to tradition and custom but also to see how much each community shared. A sense of place The aesthetic differences in the buildings were pronounced, the Hindu Temple was opulent and the Hindu Gods, male and female, sat side by side at the shrine. The Mosque was understated, sparsely decorated apart from the scriptures on the walls and the Sikh temple was a series of vast rooms where several paintings hung showing iconic Sikh battles. Our speaker from the Gypsy/Traveller community talked about travelling life and the need to have the freedom to choose where to call home and also the barriers faced by traveller people in accessing services that require you to have ‘roots’ such as doctor’s surgeries and schools. Then in the Somali community almost the opposite, the desire to have a place to call home but being displaced due to circumstances out of your control. The sense of space and place are incredibly important. The religious spaces in particular offered a constant – somewhere that, regardless of where you accessed them, was a familiar anchor connecting you to your religion and therefore your community. It was interesting that stability meant different things to different people but overall it was generally having a place that felt safe and familiar. I wondered whether The Station offers this? Whilst we work together with partners, such as Babbasa, Youth Moves, ACE, Empire Fighting Chance, all embedded in their local communities, what else can we do to make sure young people from our diverse communities have access to high quality support. Do we, for example, provide enough spaces for people to fulfil their religious obligations? Are we providing a space that is welcoming to people who speak another language? I’m just like you The commonalities, particularly around shared values, were acute. Across the religions there was a prevalence of giving and sharing. I also noticed that all communities shared the idea that ‘it takes a village’ to support all aspects of life, whether it be education, raising children or sharing wealth. We also take this shared approach when we work with young people: we get to know all aspects of their lives and enable them to build a support network. In Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam children are steered toward education and encouraged to follow the religious ideals of clean living and sexual abstinence before marriage. The world outside of tradition appeared a daunting prospect for parents of young teens and particularly if those teens were female. The roles of men and women were clearly defined. Separate places to worship, different jobs in the home, different ways to socialise and I wondered how this would affect young people’s engagement with The Station. Are we offering enough opportunities for males and females to socialise separately or is this something that we should be encouraging at all? Do we need to open the conversations with these communities about how young people can safely socialise together? And whilst we work with Bristol City Council to run the Unity Youth Forum, a group of BME young people who campaign to get their voices heard on city-wide issues, what more can we be doing? Overall a fascinating day that opened up lots of questions. Let's start a conversation. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. What can we do to further improve and be a space for young people from all backgrounds?