Bristol African Caribbean Culture Space Ltd (BACCS)– is a non profit enterprise focussed on purchasing a new, large scale venue boat to be located in the Bristol Harbour – dedicated to creating, showcasing and sharing the work of black artists and creatives, a new space to share our history, and celebrate our collective future, for everyone to enjoy and experience.
For the past 6 months we have been in discussion with the city councils Harbour team discussing mooring, vessels and gaining support. We have identified an ideal vessel called Ellen, which previously had planning permission granted for it to be an office and workshop for another enterprise back in the Spring of 2019 and to be located next to Pero’s Bridge.
We are hoping this will become the new home (following a full refurbishment) and location of the Bristol African Caribbean Culture Space (subject to new planning permissions).
First initiated back in December 2019 by myself Dr Mena Fombo and Michael Jenkins – we were both passionate about our city having more dedicated spaces to nurture black creatives, talent young and older and a space for telling more stories about black history – which is all of our history. We were both also tired of the inequality in property and venue ownership in Bristol and decided to do something about it. Floyd Fombo later joined the movement and the BACCS initiative was born.
To our knowledge, there is not a single black owned business in the Bristol Harbour yet history will tell us that once Bristol’s harbour was the leading port city in the world for the transatlantic slave trade – the commodifying of black bodies. The legacy of the slave trade is still prominent in Bristol today, and with the recent success of the turn out for the Black Lives Matter march, the toppling of Colston’s statue, a symbolic act for real change, the agreement to the renaming of Colston Hall and now Colston Girls School – we are asking for your help to continue to support change in our city.
None of the major arts national portfolio organisations nor the major partner museums in the city have prominent black leadership nor black owned nor dedicated with a permanent focus on exploring Black Britishness, African or Caribbean arts, music, history or culture.
When we look to other cities for inspiration with some of their signature spaces such as London with Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives and Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, we felt it was long overdue for Bristol to also have a space centrally located, focussed on the strengths of our city – an African and Caribbean space embedded in arts, creativity, digital innovation and new technology – some of the core areas that Bristol excels in.
We want to create a space that welcomes the nurturing of young creative minds, but also supports opportunities for the elders and all those in between to create and experience. A space that is a beacon for tourism to the West, to learn more about our city’s history, whilst experiencing the brilliant art and culture curated by black British artists alongside visiting artists (virtual or in person) from the African Caribbean diaspora across the world. A space that is purpose designed to be accessible, and one of the few venue boats on the water where wheel chair users have access. A space that embraces new technology and streams art, whilst also maintaining a commitment to the environment.
We are calling on institutions, business and individuals to vision with us to create the world we want to live in beyond Covid 19. We are calling on you to bring this new and much needed venue to central Bristol, and invest in changing the narrative for our city, not just in names of buildings but in representation, ownership, diversity and accessibility of physical spaces.
So far we have gifted lots of time to this project, we have identified some leading members of cultural institutions and venue owners for our advisory board from Knowle West Media Centre,The Watershed and Bristol Festival of Ideas. We have raised just over £15000 from Arts Council England and Bristol City Council to support the research and development and the beginnings of the funds needed to purchase, refurb and manage the venue.
We will be holding community consultations starting in July 2020, to ensure we create a space that is inclusive, accessible and designed with the people of the South West.
We are fundraising for support to realise this project including, but not exclusive to the following:
· Purchase a large vessel (Ellen, or any other appropriate vessel)
· Refurbish the vessel structurally to ensure it is accessible
· Design and decorate the vessel – we will commission African and Caribbean interior designers and artist to lead and innovate
· Mooring Fees and Planning permissions
· Project Management and coordination team
· Intergenerational consultancy group
· Legal Fees
· Website and Branding
· Visually document the story of BACCS
All accounts spending will be published annually inline with companies house regulations and you’ll be able to see where your money went when you come to visit the new venue.
Thank you so much in advance for your support – by donating you will be on the right side of history as a founding member.
Dr Mena Fombo and Michael Jenkins
Dr Mena Fombo is a the co founder of Blak Wave Productions, one of the South West’s only Black owned TV production companies and she was recently commissioned to direct Home Carnival for the BBC, airing late summer 2020. She is also the founder of Black Girl Convention supporting large events for womxn and girls of African and Caribbean heritage and the woman behind the TEDx Talk No You Cannot Touch My Hair. She is the International ambassador for the city of Bristol and Head of Programme for Young People and Emerging Creatives at Knowle West Media Centre. She holds an honorary doctorate for work in equalities from UWE Bristol and in 2019 she was Bristol247’s woman of the year! As a purposeful coach, facilitator, speaker, consultant and activist - underpinning all of Mena’s work is her commitment to promoting and campaigning for Equity, Inclusion, Access and Equality.
Michael Jenkins is an ambitious self-shooting director/producer. He is the co founder of Blak Wave Productions, one of the South West’s only Black owned TV production companies and he was recently commissioned to direct ‘We Are Not The Virus’ for the BBC. Other credits include the notable ‘Saving St Pauls Carnival’ documentary also for the BBC and producing shorts for Channel 4’s Random Acts. Michael is extremely driven and focussed on bringing well-told and untold stories to as wide an audience as possible and believes passionately in the role of film as an engine for change and understanding. Michael was recently voted among the 100 most influential people in Bristol in the BME power list 2018.
Floyd Fombo is a Director of Rathmore with over 18 years experience as an Independent Financial Adviser, Floyd is at the forefront of developments across the industry. Floyd is passionate about the development of sustainable and diverse cultural spaces in Bristol.
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