The Courts Youth Steering Group

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 the courts youth steering group and the community on their Instagram.

Navigating the professional landscape, particularly in the cultural sector, is, to put it bluntly, a minefield. This is particularly true for young and emerging professionals, where deep-seated structural inequalities have constructed multiple barriers to access. 

I’ve experienced this first-hand - making the leap from study into work has, at times, felt like diving over a gaping chasm, with the doors to opportunity gripped tightly shut. 

It’s with the aforementioned in mind that I applied to become a part of The Courts Youth Steering Group. The Courts’ historic function as a magistrates court ceased in the 80s and, by 2023, will be repurposed into a Creative Enterprise Hub. Providing space for young creatives to make contact, collaborate, explore and develop with creative businesses, The Courts will offer workspace to organisations with a vested interest in youth development. As part of the steering group, we work alongside Creative Youth Network and partners, assisting and advising on The Courts’ redevelopment. 

The steering group cares about Bristol’s creative sector - we each want to help make The Courts a space that is truly inclusive and inspiring for our peers. Our work so far has been varied. We’ve all got different creative interests, so it’s exciting to collaborate within the steering group. From Hamish, our tech and motion design whiz, to Will, who, in his words “just likes to make beats”, we’re continually finding ways to contribute our unique creative skills. Other members, like Oona and Phoebe, are interested in how we can tell the story of The Courts; whether that’s on film, through writing or in artwork. So far, we have a documentary in the works that will record the project’s process; a number of blogs and articles; interviews in print and on radio and an event in April utilising The Courts before building begins.

Focused on the past, present and future of The Courts, we’ve explored the building’s heritage alongside Rose Wallis and students from UWE Bristol, as well as contributing to talks with Purcell Architects and Interaction Interior Designers to help envision the future build and design. The steering group has taken us all over the country - from Manchester to London! - visiting arts spaces that inspire and excite us, taking our favourite parts back with us to inform the redesign. As well as office and meeting space to accommodate the resident creative enterprises, the new building will feature a cafe/kitchen, social spaces and multi-use rooms fitted with presentation/rehearsal facilities for the performing artists. 

As a young person navigating adulthood and early career, it’s all too easy to feel disillusioned and dismissed. However, even in this early stage, the Youth Steering Group has allowed my individual skills, opinions and values to be considered alongside those of my peers. I’m confident that The Courts will continue to prioritise the needs of Bristol’s young creative community, cementing a future rooted in collaboration, inclusivity and systemic change. I’m relieved and grateful to witness the beginnings of a professional, creative space that centres youth development - at long last!

Learn more about The Youth Steering Group online and on our Instagram.

Article by Lucy Pratt

Want to join the group? Find out more here

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