100 beacons

Levelling up Bristol’s community assets

MX Centre, St Paul's has provided a vital base for localised COVID19 services

"I think its very important for a city to have range of arts and community spaces, suitable for a wide range of music and events and accessible to all. There shouldn’t be a hierarchy but rather an understanding that different conditions are needed to present a full symphony orchestra and chorus, an experimental jazz session or a poetry slam. These events all have their own particular economics, what is important is that they are all the best they can be - exciting, empowering and inspiring. Bristol needs and deserves all of this." Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive, Bristol Beacon

Trinity believes in the power of shared space. That’s why we’ve launched ‘100 beacons’, to shine a light some of Bristol’s most loved community buildings and spaces and build a collective case for capital investment in the city’s youth, community and cultural assets.

Bristol Beacon is not the only asset owned by us. Bristol City Council’s property portfolio consists of over 1,500 properties; approximately 250 community spaces such as libraries, parks and leisure centres and 117 concessionary lettings including scout huts, youth clubs, community farms and centres such as St Werburghs, Filwood and Harcliffe.

Whether it’s the park you walk in, the library you read in, the community centre you meet in, or the youth club you learn in, the chances are this space is owned by the local authority.

The condition of these buildings and spaces vary greatly. One of these spaces is Malcolm X Community Centre, based in the heart of St Pauls. Born out of the St. Paul's Uprising of April 2, 1980, MX Centre has survived the storms to remain a much-needed space serving the local community throughout the pandemic - most recently as a COVID19 pop-up clinic, vaccinating 200 people in one weekend.

However, as this statement from the Centre's Board of Trustees outlines, this space is in desperate need for financial investment:

"MX Centre is crying out for some TLC - essential repairs would cost a fraction of £107M. There is an ancient heating system that threatens strike action daily. Infrastructure that is in desperate need of modernisation and accessibility work, including lifts that are in place technically though haven't functioned for years.

Having a building where individuals with mobility needs cannot access certain spaces is just not acceptable in 2021, yet we struggle to realise a solution without Council support as the asset owner. This is just a snippet of the building's current issues and needs.

None of the other community spaces owned by Bristol City Council object to the refurbishment of the Bristol Beacon. But what about the other council owned community spaces across the city that exist in need of care and repair? Do they not deserve some funding to serve their respective users?

These are spaces that cater largely to the city's marginalised communities and would be grateful for a fraction of that colossal figure. We are simply asking for equity in funding distribution from the Council, for being caretakers of their spaces.

The Malcolm X Community Centre is one such space of hundreds across the city. It is imperative that Bristol City Council address this issue of disparity, which is years old, necessary and now urgent."

Malcolm X Community Centre, Board of Trustees

With the launch of new schemes such as the Community Ownership Fund alongside the Government’s Build Back Better principles, we want to help build a collective case for capital investment in Bristol’s publicly owned assets, so that they can:

• facilitate good health, well-being and positive relations between communities as they grow and diversify 
• compete in a social enterprise environment where ‘sweating the asset’ becomes key to sustaining local services

• fulfil their role as local economic multipliers, creating vital paid jobs, contributing to our economic prosperity and collective recovery.

As Kathryn Chiswell Jones Managing Director of Artspace Lifespace who look after Council-owned assets including The Vestibules and Ashton Court Mansion says; "Not all community assets are designated mansions or grand halls, but they are beacons for communities. Our local community spaces are integral to social and economic inclusion and to building Bristol Back Better."

Way’s you can help

If you manage a Council owned building, please take fifteen minutes to fill in our concessionary lettings survey to help us build the collective case for investment.

Write to your local Councillor or MP about the importance of capital grant support for a local building that’s close to your heart, using Trinity’s template.

Make sure you make a commitment to investment in community assets a key question for all Mayoral candidates at upcoming hustings meetings.

Check out Locality’s Save Our Spaces for an introduction and toolkit if there’s a space in your local area that you’d like to save.

Read and share We Need a 'Bristol Beacon' in Every Community , an opinion piece in the Bristol Cable by Trinity CEO, Emma Harvey.

Share on socials using #100beacons

Emma Harvey, CEO, Trinity Community Arts

Jon Newey, Managing Director, Full Circle

Kathryn Chiswell-Jones, Company Manager, Artspace Lifespace

LaToyah McAllister-Jones, Executive Director, St Paul’s Carnival

Makala Cheung, Creative Director, Filwood Community Centre

Primrose Granville, Director, Malcolm X Community Centre

Stacy Yelland, CEO, Eastside Community Trust