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 How can we measure the value of relationships? We build relationships with young people. We build relationships because we know this is the best way to understand their needs, find the right support for them and then walk alongside them as they move forward in their lives. I put the word ‘know’ in italics because, of course, we can never know the exact impact of our work with young people. Sometimes they will tell you their lives have changed, sometimes you can see it has changed. But, most of the time, it is really difficult to tell. Many youth workers will tell you stories of bumping into a young person in the supermarket they worked with years ago. They often tell you how much the relationship meant at the time, but it took 5 years to realise it. Young people’s lives, like all of us, have ups and downs – a job secured today may be a redundancy tomorrow. A young person in love today can be abused tomorrow. In other words, it is often really difficult to tell what difference we make. And yet, we are consistently asked to ‘measure’ our success. We are asked to prove how much a young person’s confidence has grown, whether they understand their rights and choices better, how many have a new job or how many are not now carrying knives. Funders, local authorities, government and donors are asking us to ‘prove’ our worth. It is, of course, important that the money spent on supporting young people is well spent. Taxpayer funding should be accounted for and donations from the public or through grants need to have real impact. But I think we are measuring too much. The more we measure, the more we imagine young people are like rockets. Rocket science is complicated but predictable. Every action has a predictable reaction and you will get the same result with the same change every time. But young people are not like rockets – they are not predictable. Each young person needs a different kind of support, and even then you cannot predict how a young person will react or what difference it will make or when. And the problem is the more we try to measure the more we are asking youth workers to sit at desks in front of computers instead of talking with young people. Data must be inputted and reports written. Ultimately, a good youth worker is great with young people – they can build relationships quickly, see what help they might need, inspire and support them. But when you try to categorise that change onto a computer database you lose so much, and we know that this desire to measure is starting to put people off working with young people. We are in danger, I think, of over measuring to the point where we start to lose good youth workers and take time away from young people. And in return we get data that is not very useful because the wisdom comes from the relationship, not the statistics. Youth work is likely to see more money soon. The government is turning on the financial taps to tackle knife crime and exclusion. Almost certainly they will demand data in return. Our youth workers are amazing people who can help young people navigate the barriers they face and start out in the lives with the best chance of success. You can’t measure that! Help us build long-lasting relationships built on trust with young people. Donate now: Please select a donation amount: * £7 Could cover the cost of telephone conversations between a youth worker and a vulnerable young person in isolation £12 Could give a young carer an evening of fun activities, taking a break from their caring responsibilities, in a small group session online £25 Could provide an hour’s online specialist support for a young person struggling with their mental health Other This is a monthly paymentDonate How can we help?