Creative YOU

Creativity is everywhere. Opportunity is not.     

We are part of the solution. The secret is in our name. Every year Creative Youth Network gives thousands of young people a taste and thirst for the arts and culture and the joy, life-skills and opportunity they bring.   

But we want more.   

Creative YOU is our campaign showcasing how we, you and the engaged, emerging and amazing young creatives we support, come together. 

We want to reveal how, together, we are ambition, quality, cultural democracy and social mobility in action. 

Every young person deserves the right to access creativity and development opportunities in the creative and cultural industries.

It all starts with education.

If all young people have access to creative subjects in school, then talented young people from all backgrounds can pursue their passion, develop crucial skills needed in so many industries and improve their wellbeing.

1. Pledge

Add your name and join the many people passionate about bringing creativity back into our schools.   

With all the pledges we’ll be reaching out to headteachers in Bristol and the South West. We hope this will encourage local academies to give more space to creativity in their curriculum.  

Bristol, being the creative city we know and love, can pave the way for other regions to do the same, showcasing the true value of creativity.  



2. Sign up

Join us by signing up to our newsletter where we share best practice of how to support young people. 

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3. Find out more

Join us by reading and sharing our CreativeYOU report which shows how our work brings opportunities for creative expression and enables young people to explore their talent, regardless of background or circumstance.  

Download our Creative YOU report


As part of our bid to redevelop the old Magistrates Courts, social historians Rose Wallis and Laura Harrison, and UWE History students, have been working with the project’s youth steering group to explore the stories of the people who passed through the courts.

The courts were opened in 1880. They replaced the old and apparently ill-equipped Justices’ Room at the Council House, described by one local paper as a ‘suffocating cock pit’. Until the 1970s, the magistrates courts dealt with a range of what were considered minor offences, from common assaults and petty theft, to truancy and driving violations. Like modern magistrates courts, decisions were made without a jury, leaving the more serious offences for trial at the jury courts: the Quarter Sessions and Assizes.

A ‘warning to street footballers’ in a report on the proceedings of Bristol Police or Magistrates Court from the Bristol Mercury, 17 January 1895

A ‘warning to street footballers’ in a report on the proceedings of Bristol Police or Magistrates Court from the Bristol Mercury, 17 January 1895

UWE History students and members of the youth steering group used detailed newspaper accounts from the local press to explore the experience of Bristolians in the courts in the 1880s and 1890s. The research highlighted how the police frequently used the courts to regulate public behaviour, prosecuting begging, gambling and drunkenness. Fines were even issued for ‘loitering’ and playing football. But ordinary men and women also brought complaints before the magistrates. The courts provided access to the law offering, for example, security to victims of domestic abuse.

Young people behind bars

Many of the cases found concerned young people. After 1847, magistrates courts were used to try people under the age of 14 as a way of avoiding the more serious punishments handed down by the jury courts. As well as exposing some of the hardships experienced by Bristol’s youth, the research highlighted the early steps taken to keep young people out of the adult criminal justice system. A number of young defendants were sent to Reformatory Schools – institutions that operated somewhere between a prison and a school – including one of the very first reformatories, opened in Kingswood in 1852, whose site is now the centre of operations for Creative Youth Network.

From difficult pasts to bright futures

The research was used by Creative Youth Network alumni to produce ‘Locked Up!’, a showcase of new artworks and performances. Rather than just re-enacting these historic cases, the young artists created imaginative, evocative responses that connected past and present experiences. Many of the themes explored resonated with current social questions about crime and punishment, poverty, identity and prejudice. UWE history and the youth steering group have also held a series of interpretation workshops at The Station, exploring ways these histories might be shared with the public when the courts are redeveloped as a creative enterprise centre.

Not only will the proposed redevelopment of the courts restore and preserve an historic site that played an important part in the lives of Bristol’s communities, but it will also provide a space for the sort of creative and collaborative partnership that Creative Youth Network and UWE history students have shared. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Creative Youth Network and the exciting prospect of this new creative enterprise hub.

How can we help?