We use cookies on this website to analyse browsing, help enhance your experience, provide social media features and for you to view embedded content such as videos. Please click accept if you are happy with our use of cookies. You find out more about how we use cookies in our Cookie Statement.

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

News

Express yourself

The need for accessible arts

The need for accessible arts

Celebrating its 40th year as a community arts space, the Trinity Centre in Bristol is a nucleus for home-grown creativity and an open door for people to express themselves.

As part of our series on arts in the run up to our Annual Meeting, we speak to Centre Manager Emma Harvey who reminds us that the success and future of Trinity and for arts in wider society is to remain accessible.

“We try to incubate and facilitate other people’s ideas and activities, and respond to what people want rather than be prescriptive.”

Emma Harvey, Trinity Centre

From the beginning, Trinity outlined a clear mission which is to empower their local community through the arts and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to access and shape arts and culture in Bristol.

Emma explains that the rich variety of programs and activities are reflective of the needs of the people who Trinity serve.

“It’s always been about people finding the support to express themselves, and have the confidence to explore. Someone excellently described “an arts space like Trinity is using a familiar space to access something that’s unfamiliar.”

The centre boasts a wide choice of activities – either as a participant or as an audience member. Roller disco evenings, discussion groups on the refugee crisis, and even spandex clad wrestlers are given a fountainhead.

Much of the programme on offer is driven by different people within the community who conceive their own ideas, and bring them to the Trinity team, who help those concepts come to fruition.
“We try to incubate and facilitate other people’s ideas and activities, and respond to what people want rather than be prescriptive.”

Unlocking the potential

Trinity has historically been a space which has been accessible to a hugely diverse group of people; having been one of Bristol’s leading African-Caribbean music venues which has been the hub for performing and Teachings of Dub and reggae, Trinity has local links with many of Bristol’s BAME, LGBTQ community and disability groups.

One great example of this in practice is Trinity’s relationship with The Misfits Theatre Company; an arts and social group lead by people with learning disabilities. As their group has got bigger, Emma notes that Trinity were keen to help the Misfits facilitate their growth and independence.

“The Misfits started off a small theatre group, but continually their performances are getting bigger and better and we want to support them in diversifying their provision. Now they organise a monthly Rhythm of the Night nightclub for people with disabilities and their families/friends and they wish to develop DJ music courses so they can perform on their own nights. Beyond that, Trinity supports other accessible projects much as Amplify music production course for disabled musicians with Drake Music, and Creative Challenges which is a Peer Support Project run by West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL).

It’s important for us that every part of our activity and programming are designed and shaped by service users – it brings us back to empowering communities to create their own artistic expressions, and it’s an organic way of helping people to discover what it is that they want to learn and explore.”

“It’s always been about people finding the support to express themselves, and have the confidence to explore. Someone excellently described “an arts space like Trinity is using a familiar space to access something that’s unfamiliar.”

Emma Harvey, Trinity Centre

Strong roots

Dating back to the 1832, Trinity was a former church and in 1976 it finally closed due to dwindling congregations and a lack of funds. By this point, the building had spiralled into disrepair and was purchased by the Bristol Caribbean Community Enterprise Group for use as a community centre, especially focussed on driving activities for young people.

Since then, whilst changing hands across the decades, Trinity has kept this community ethos at the heart of its identity remaining an inclusive public space. As part of the building’s rejuvenation, accessibility has been a key theme which has expanded beyond arts programming.

“As we have grown, so must the spaces where we operate. We’ve been trying to improve the access, flexibility and quality of the space. This is because we want more for our communities; we want these community events and projects happening here, to benefit from them taking place in a prominent, first-class venue. Trinity was built as a church, and was never meant to be such a thriving arts venue – but part of the fun and the challenge is to keep this beautiful building alive and breathing.”

It’s important for us that every part of our activity and programming are designed and shaped by service users – it brings us back to empowering communities to create their own artistic expressions, and it’s an organic way of helping people to discover what it is that they want to learn and explore.”

Emma Harvey, Trinity Centre

As well as directly developing the building, Trinity aims to develop projects based around sustainability and keeping green. In 2014, they introduced solar panelling to the building, and have incorporated sustainable themes by supporting and working with local art projects such as Litterati who held a week’s residence at Trinity.

“The project was a culmination of local artists running free daily workshops for young people based around the idea of re-using items that would be traditionally seen as rubbish. This project educated young people about the amount of waste that is produced as well as ways to re-use and prevent so much waste.

We will continue to support green or eco themed conferences and workshops held within the venue offering advice about local resources such as catering and transport links in addition to offering a discounted rate for charities and non-profit green organisations.”

Futureproof

There is national recognition of the need to increase diversity in the arts. This year, at 64 Million Artists regional research meeting in Bristol, arts organisations discussed what is needed to broaden participation in the arts outside of those currently reached by publicly funded arts. Community settings such as Trinity were flagged as having a critical role to play.

“We believe it is integral for everyone to take part in arts which is why we offer over 1000 hours of free or subsidised hall space annually. We are well placed in location and reputation to reach diverse audiences and ensure that everyone can have their voice heard within the wider arts ecology. This is why we’re embarking on a conservation project, to secure the building’s future as a cultural destination for the next 40 years.

With an old building, there is always work to be done. We know from talking to people every day, the positive impact an arts space like Trinity makes to people’s lives. We’ve set up a JustGiving page so that people who love Trinity can show their support and get involved in helping to raise funds, so that we can continue as a hub for the arts – for everyone.”

Trinity’s Patron, Miriam Margolyes OBE explains the importance of Trinity for the arts in society, specifically in relation to engaging young people, “These days, the arts have to fight for their place in our society & I saw when I visited Trinity that it is not only committed to encouraging & fostering the arts in Bristol, but also to ensure young people from diverse backgrounds experience all aspects of art & enable them to realise their dreams.”

words: chris yong
photos: jessica bartolini

CV
Trinity Centre

Trinity is a community arts and training project in Bristol based at the Trinity Centre, a large Grade II listed Victorian church bordering Easton, Ashley and Lawrence Hill. If you would like to help the development of Trinity, text ROOF31 £10 (or other amount) to 70070 to donate to Trinity and make a difference today or alternatively you can visit https://www.justgiving.com/trinitycommunityarts

Email newsletter_triodos bank

What do you think of "Express yourself"

Please enter a comment

Please enter your name