Creative Industries as Anchors for High Streets - Hamilton House, Bristol

Coexist CIC runs and maintains Hamilton House on Stokes Croft, a diverse community hub comprising 55,000 sq ft of studio, office, meeting and work space. The project plays host to over 200 tenants and approximately 30,000 users each year, and has played a crucial role in the rejeuvenation of Stokes Croft, its development as Bristol’s “Cultural Quarter”, achieving an 80% reduction in street crime, the creation of 100’s of local jobs and re-opening of a number of shop fronts on the high street. 

Coexist CIC currently employs a staff of 10 and has an annual turnover of £340,000. Hamilton House is run in partnership with social landlord Connolly and Callaghan Ltd, who have supported and sponsored the development of the organisation. 

Direct benefits for local high street businesses? 

These hubs can be a focus point for a developing community and creative economy. Through a creative partnership of artists, makers, local businesses and social enterprises, the community hub will support local creativity and entrepreneurial activity through providing physical, social, political, and financial space for the community to take grow and develop according to its own agenda rather than agendas imposed externally. These projects aim to be responsive to the needs to of the local community, however the project targets may include:

· Bringing un-used buildings back into active use by local people

· Providing diverse and flexible spaces including long term studio and office lets, and short-term workshops, meeting rooms and workspace, creating a range of practical and affordable spaces for local people, projects and businesses

· Supporting local business by increasing footfall locally, and cross-fertilisation of trading and opportunities for enterprise

Getting Started

To open a permanent community hub in partnership with a local property owner it is essential to draw together key partners and initial tenants, prepare a business plan and financial forecast; and initial site preparation. Key questions include:

1. Where? Geography – focus must be in/on the retail streets - how does it get more people to come more often and stay longer?

A hub must utilise un-used spaces on or directly adjacent to the main retail streets. Creation of a creative, community hub in the heart of a town will provide a welcoming community space that will encourage people to meet to talk, work, play and collaborate, encouraging and enabling people to visit the area more often and stay longer, whether they are local to the area or not.

2. Community? How will to integrate with other initiatives of the main town partnership and members of the local community?

With with Pop-Ups to arrange and access temporary-use retail space and support us to find a local partner to provide a food and drink space in the pop up hub. Work closely landlords group to identify the right long-term location for a community hub.

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