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Story so far

A brief history of how we got here…

In 2018

Bristol City Council Housing Team (our landlords) moved out of St Anne’s House, which they had been using as their offices since the 80’s, when the original inhabitants St Annes Boardmills shut shop and moved out.


St Anne’s House was mainly empty, but during the two winters St Mungo’s used part of the ground floor as a winter shelter, to provide dormitory accommodation and support to people experiencing homelessness during the coldest months. Part of St Mungo’s planning permission for the change of use was that they would make the other two floors available to communities in St Annes for use as a community space.

In 2019

Bricks were invited into St Annes by local residents that were gathering as a residents group to liaise between St Mungos and the wider community regarding the shelter, and potential community uses. This was aided through Bristol DIY Arts Network – and specifically Artspace Lifespace who were in contact with St Mungos about the use.

Bricks, St Mungos and BCC worked together through 2019 to negotiate a way for the community to make use of the free space. This was supported via Nisbet Trust and National Lottery Community Fund – both of whom supported us at a very early stage, and to whom we are especially grateful given the huge impact that early investment has delivered.


Putting a creative and community space above a residential space for people with complex needs was admittedly complex to organise, but early 2020 we managed to find an agreement and were about to move in. Covid came along so we did not move in, then due to the need for social distancing St Mungos relocated their service delivery away from St Annes (where group dormitories made this impossible), to deliver in individual rooms at the YMCA.

Bricks moved our delivery online and when able to, into the parks. We ran a co-design process with people in St Annes, commissioning Jo Bushell a local resident and social practice artist to work with us through a Creative and Community Mapping project, using an Asset Based Community Development methodology to understand what local people want, where the ambition is, where the assets are (people, ideas, places) and use this to co-design a proposal to Bristol City Council for temporary use of St Anne’s House to test out those ideas. This style of working is something that we borrowed from Take a Part, the national development organisation for social practice led by founding chair of Bricks Kim Wide.


This process identified what local people wanted from St Anne’s House via a series of events in the park, some micro commission projects, numerous conversations and walks – and resulted in a proposal to the council, a share back event with video of learnings from the process – and ultimately a 12 month lease from Bristol City Council to Bricks which resulted in us, knowing the project would be moving forward in March 2021 and getting the keys to move in to St Anne’s House in June 2021.

Concurrently to this, through 2020-2021 we had been delivering an online artist network and peer to peer support group – Bricks Artist Programme. Supporting artists in the West of England, through podcast commissioning, micro research commissions, online talks, peer networking, crit groups and online representation. This piece of work helped us to understand what artists in our region need from a creative organisation and build a network of support for a creative programme in connection with St Annes House.

The past few years

June 2021 opens a new chapter for Bricks at St Anne’s House. Now in the building and with keys Bricks could grow into the organisation that we needed to be to deliver on the plans as set our through the co-design process.

This work was supported by Arts Council England, West of England Combined Authority, Bristol City Council (as landlords), Quartet Foundation, and philanthropic foundations.

Summer 2021 we set up the space, building partition walls, recruiting our first set of tenants, growing the Bricks team, building more links in the local area, and trying to peel back the remnants of the various uses and inhabitants the building has had over its last 65 years.

Since we opened to the public, we have programmed a variety of activities, events, groups, creativity, and developed core parts of the building to be a welcoming and engaging space for all. We look forward to continuing this journey with the local community, and working alongside lots of wonderful projects.