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 Home Affairs Committee calls for investment to protect young people from serious harm Another week and another Parliamentary committee highlights the importance of youth services. This time the Home Affairs Committee produced their report on the government's response to knife crime. They fundamentally see the response as inadequate and piecemeal doing little more than responding to media focus rather than the long term needs of young people and the communities they live in. In the end this had led to young people losing their lives and communities and families blighted by unnecessary youth violence. Committee findings They acknowledged government strategy does commit to a public health response to the crisis, focusing on improving conditions in communities that will stop the rise of knife crime in the first place and not just on criminalising young people. But the committee pointed out there were few signs that these words were turning into action and highlighted there were ‘no new proposals and only a gathering of existing information and responses’. The report highlights too the significant role that school exclusion plays in exacerbating the disconnection that young people feel from their communities. The committee ‘suggests that our education system is currently failing many children, including those most in need of holistic support and early intervention. There is a pressing need for more investment in wraparound support to keep a child in mainstream education.’ The drug market is also changing, with county lines drawing vulnerable young people into exploitation and gang violence. The committee also highlighted the role of social media and the need for these digital companies to take more responsibility for how social media is used to exploit young people. Finally, but most importantly they drew a direct link between poverty and deprivation and youth violence. They stated ‘This points to the need for a broad, population-wide approach to prevention, with enhanced interventions to support the communities most at risk of violence.’ BAME young people are more likely to suffer too with 27% of incidents involving young people from these backgrounds. From these observations they make some bold, but not unexpected recommendations. Long term provision of youth work was at the heart of their proposals. The report states: ‘Witnesses to this inquiry were almost united in their calls for more youth services, but local authority budgets are being increasingly consumed by statutory services (...) The Government needs to introduce a fully-funded, statutory minimum of provision for youth outreach workers and community youth projects in all areas, co-designed with local young people. This would be a national Youth Service Guarantee, with a substantial increase in services and ringfenced funding from central Government’. This could not be clearer. We know in Bristol that youth services provided by Creative Youth Network and others already support young people at risk of engaging in knife crime. But we know too that youth services prevent young people from engaging in it in the first place. The report acknowledged that many more young people are carrying knives – often in a misguided need for personal safety. Good youth work helps young people to find alternatives and engage in positive activities that develop both their self confidence and builds new skills. Positive peer groups and a good relationship with a youth worker are the best way of steering young people clear of those who would exploit them. As importantly, youth work can help young people reach their potential, find their talents and see a future for themselves despite the struggles they face. Here are Creative Youth Network we support the Home Affairs Committee assertion that well resourced Youth Services are a key response to the rise in knife crime but add so much more to young peoples lives. Let us know what you think in the comments below. How can we help?