YAB – The Courts Youth Advisory Board

The Courts will become an enterprise hub in Bristol for young people and creative businesses, where we learn and share expertise. 

We aim to make this space positive, creative, and inspiring. To keep young people at the heart of the decision making, we have a youth steering group, who will make decisions for the space.

They are creating art, managing events, learning more about the history of the building to bring the space to life and make decisions on how we can make this a valuable space for young people and creatives.  

Find out more about YAB – The Courts Youth Advisory Board and the community on Instagram.

Interested in joining? We're actively looking for new members – find out how to Get Involved Here.

Virginia Woolf famously noted the importance of a Room of One’s Own - that is, a dedicated physical space for creativity, allowing the individual to imagine, experiment and invent without interruption.

Virginia spoke of this over a century ago, but even now her ideas struck a chord with me. The concept of space, both personal and shared, and how we can use it to incite creativity, I believe, holds enduring relevance. After all, the creative urge is innate within all of us; therefore the creative space must possess a prevailing value. 

Over time, Virginia’s initial concept has developed. Modern scholars now recognise that it’s not simply A Room of One’s Own that can incite creativity. Space for collaboration, presentation, play, experimentation and discussion are equally crucial. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the creative space looks different for all of us. Some will thrive in playful chaos whilst others may need organisation and simplicity to let their mind create… Many individuals delight in the opportunity to bounce ideas off another, whilst just as many others require introspective solitude. Even the way we label spaces can instigate creative thoughts. Recent research has suggested that individuals are likely to perform more creatively in a given space if the area holds a dedicated label eg. ‘Innovate Lab’, ‘Creative Quarter’. It follows that environment does have the power to adjust our mindset, and we must not dismiss the value of spatial design in the arts.  

Living in Bristol, I feel lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of unique creative spaces - event venues, galleries, theatres, co-working spaces… The list feels endless. As we work towards adding another valued space to this list with The Courts development, consideration of how to best construct an accessible, inspiring and inclusive creative building has often been at the centre of conversation. 

As much as The Courts is, at its heart, a space for creatives, I think it’s important to keep in mind it’s value to the community. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg introduced a second theory worthy of consideration. He believed the home and workplace to be the two most important places in our lives, but, alongside, was a third essential place. He named it ‘The Great Good Place’. This is a place for gathering, where one can put aside the concerns of work and home to congregate, relax and converse simply for pleasure - it could be a cafe, bookshop, bar, or community centre, for example. This, Ray proposed, was the heart of a community's social vitality. I think this is what we’re aiming for in The Courts development - not simply a creative space, but a Great Good Place.

It is through collaboration with Purcell Architects and Interaction Designers that we hope The Courts will become a building that brings creativity and community to everyone. The Courts Steering Group have regularly provided feedback to those leading on the build and design of the space. Understandably, we all have ideas of how the The Courts could look and feel - each valuable and unique. Harnessing input from the Steering Group, Creative Youth Network staff and professional advice from both Purcell and Interaction, we’ve reached an outcome that is considerate to our range of perspectives. 


Photo: The Courts 2021

Whilst nothing is set in stone, and there’s certainly a long road ahead, I’m excited to see The Courts develop into a truly multi-purpose space - a Room of One’s Own when needed and a Great Good Place, too. To be truly inclusive, I believe this diversity is essential. It’s a mammoth task, but the outcome will bring out the best in all of us.


Learn more about The Youth Steering Group on our website and on our instagram.

Article by Lucy Pratt


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