Place Category: Arts & Culture
- Website & Social
- Social Impact Declaration
- Social Impact Statements
An accredited social enterprise, Watershed is a multi art-form venue and producer, sharing, developing and showcasing exemplary cultural ideas and talent.
Based in Bristol, but connecting with artists and audiences across the world, Watershed hosts three cinemas, a large Café/Bar, conference and events spaces and the Pervasive Media Studio, which brings together a network of over 100 artists, technologists and academics to explore the future of mobile and wireless media.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated March 2019
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
Watershed Aims and Objectives
- Nurture, inspire and engage artists and audiences
- Create programmes that are distinctive, imaginative, inclusive, collaborative and playful
- Explore new ideas, practice and experience
- Configure opportunity to develop and support talent
- Build relationships and connect networks of collaboration, locally and globally
- Value the diversity of people, experience and culture as a creative asset
- Connect communities, knowledge and learning in our social spaces
- Help everyone to enjoy their experience
- Increase our financial and organisational resilience
To achieve these broad aims, we have set ourselves the following objectives for 2018-2022:
- Improve efficiency and margins through adopting new technology and systems
- Increase investment in emergent talent through developing unrestricted fundraising
- Grow audiences for cultural cinema
- Increase engagement from young people (24 or under) and BAME communities
- Develop partnerships to support talented people into economic self-sustainability
- Review and refine our business model, to increase financial and organisational resilience
Watershed delivers a diverse cultural programme of films, events, festivals, artists commissions, workshops and conferences with audiences and participation at the heart of the organisation. We are distinctive in our attitude to curation and programming, innovating at the intersection of art, technology and society; playfulness, relevance and care are key.
Watershed takes a hands-on approach to nurturing and developing talent. We respond to emergent opportunity and constantly develop new mechanisms to support the people we work with. We produce environments where artists and creative companies work collaboratively with technologists and academics to explore new genres and experiences at the intersection of creativity and computing. We work with schools, young people out of school, universities, new graduates and early career artists to support people in discovering and developing their creativity.
We are rooted in Bristol but place no boundaries on the collective imagination of our collaborators, We actively build and leverage creative networks, believing diversity of people, experience and culture is an asset. Watershed plays a vital hub and connecting role in the city region’s cultural and creative economy, creating pathways to new knowledge and new practice.
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
Inclusion and diversity are key to our approach.
Watershed’s emphasis on interdisciplinarity, accessibility and open innovation ensures that diversity is a driving force within our work. We believe that to release the true potential of the artists and audiences we work with, we must draw from the widest possible pool of collaborators and ask them to engage with people not like them (in cultural background, ethnicity, discipline, age etc). Our work is curated to programme difference, and open calls and community partnerships ensure it is vibrantly mixed.
Diversity is inherent in our approach to supporting a thriving cultural ecology. However, the case for inclusion as a matter of social justice and institutional responsibility has further to progress and with greater urgency (in both Watershed and society as whole). Since 2017, we have been to moving our thinking from growing diversity to building inclusion for minority and excluded groups. We apply this thinking across programmes, audiences, participants and staffing. This approach is underpinned by our values, Watershed’s approach to being authentically, thoughtfully and sustainably inclusive is enabled by collaboration, responsibility and open-ness.
Watershed is COLLABORATIVE. We believe our best work is done in partnership. This takes many forms - from those we have worked with over many years, to those we collaborate with on specific themes or opportunities. We are committed to cross-sector and cross-community collaboration as the best way to nurture the creative ecosystem of Bristol. Rather than creating tokenistic or parachuted programmes, we believe in working with the partners who are already active in a specific community or group - finding ways to learn from them, champion them, and pay them properly in order to add value to both of us.
Watershed’s 2018 - 2022 business plan identifies the following priority groups:
- Young people (under 24)
- People from BAME backgrounds
- Deaf, Hard of Hearing and disabled audiences
In order to create an appropriate invite and offer for these specific groups, we consult and collaborate with individuals and partners including: Ujima, Come the Rev, Unlimited, BBC See Hear, VS1 Productions, Creative Youth Network, Mind, Elmfield.
“We felt very cared for during our residency and that the Pervasive Media Studio (and the people in it) were genuinely invested in and excited about our project. There’s literally no way we would be where we are now without it. The residency has genuinely opened up a bunch of new possibilities that will be felt in our practice for many years.” Action Hero, Artists in Residence
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
Watershed acknowledges the power of making specific invitations to specific people, of making them specifically welcome. We take responsibility for the cultural ecology of Bristol - investing time and effort in supporting and growing other organisations rather than simply seeking to benefit ourselves. Watershed has worked hard to build a mixed business model, loyal audiences and strong profile - this institutional resilience gives us a position of privilege, which we work hard to recognise - sharing our assets where we can and striving to ensure we do not make assumptions about others’ ability to commit time and resource to projects. In addition, we use our profile to act as an ally and advocate for people working in the creative sector of Bristol who are from minority groups or who are working in new ways to promote and support them.
We evaluate programmes and projects with external consultants and create project videos and case studies which document learning and outcomes. These are shared with audiences, partners and peers. We will seek to publish learning about our approach to inclusion (what has worked and most crucially what has not, in order to support change within our sector and to share our institutional ability to invest resource where others can’t.
We conduct regular demographic surveys with a robust sample of visitors (3 times per year) to build an accurate picture of Watershed users and undertake an annual staff survey to understand our team’s demographic. All of our project videos are captioned, to ensure knowledge exchange is not only directed at hearing practitioners and ensure the public events relating to talent development programme have BSL interpretation. We strive to ensure all public panels and events are representative of the population of Bristol. Watershed's impact is not characterised in a single programme or project, but in our ethos of openness, and responsibility. These attributes are shared across our whole organisation and lead to engaged audiences, flourishing talent and a competitive creative sector:
“I’m two months into an experience that is significantly changing my life.” Aiden Moesby, Artist in
Residence at Pervasive Media Studio.
This ethos is particularly present within our work around inclusion: from hosting the BBC See Hear Festival in February, which explores representation of Deaf/deaf people on screen, to our ongoing collaboration with Come the Rev, a collective of curators, programmers and creatives committed to exploring and challenging black life, to micro-residencies which provide financial support for people of colour to join Pervasive Media Studio, our aim is to make ourselves welcoming to everyone, across every part of what we do.
With so much uncertainty in the world, a key focus for the next year will be the continued championing and support of young people’s voices - especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in the media. Rife Magazine continues to go from strength to strength - and will soon be starting a Travelling Writers Room in Libraries across Bristol, and publishing a book by young people about the issues that matter to them.
4) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
In a 12 month period:
- 1.5million people visited us on the web
- 174,000 people bought tickets for our venue screenings and events
- 36,000 young people engaged with our programme
- 104,000 people engaged with our projects beyond the venue
- 153 artists and creatives are resident in the Pervasive Media Studio
- There are 101 full time equivalent jobs at Watershed
- 5 continents hosted Watershed events or collaborations
- Watershed Group Turnover in 2017/18 is £5.87million
Headline cultural cinema programme activity in 2017 - 2018 included:
- 3,631 screenings (against a target of 3018) of 420 titles (over 99% cultural films) from 53 countries, incl.
939 (against a target of 680) screenings of British independent titles of 87 titles (against a target of 50)
including 66 Q&A’s.
The Studio is supporting a growing community with 140 residents and an active alumni of 221 creatives. Since the launch in 2008 we have supported:
- 92 new cultural and creative businesses
- 9 businesses to trade internationally
- 55 artists to develop work which has shown internationally
- 10 universities to collaborate with us on long term programmes
Inclusion is key
We have been working on developing our approach to inclusion and our Studio Inclusion has been particularly focused on bringing new creatives from BAME communities into the Studio and discover new ways we can support projects that reach BAME communities in new, respectful and relevant ways.
We developed a series of micro residencies which offer the opportunity for creative practitioners to dive into a type of collaborative practice which may be currently at the edges of their work. It’s a chance to play, be inspired and reflective, to breathe and explore (without the pressure of delivering specific outcomes) to discover the role digital technologies might have in their practice. Most importantly it’s a chance to learn more about the Studio and the wider creative technology community of Bristol, without the need to learn the ‘right language’ or navigate their way through a formal application process.
During this period we have supported three artists with application-free micro residencies to decrease barriers to joining the Pervasive Media Studio and saw representation from BAME creatives rise to 21% of the Studio community (compared to our target of 16% which matches the city’s population). Showcasing and nurturing new talent.
“It feels unreal that my desire to see St Paul’s moving forward in a positive direction has come to fruition." Community activist & teacher Sauda Kyalambuka (African Voices Forum), Beyond Boundaries participant.
As the lead organisation for Film Hub South West, Watershed offers access to training, funding and networking opportunities to some 140 Hub members including cinemas, mixed art venues and festivals. Our new rolling fund, Beyond Boundaries, also supports creative practitioners (with a focus on underrepresented groups) to make their ideas reality – from building a brand to reaching new audiences; working towards a more inclusive industry and cinema experience.
“We would not be the cinema we are today without Hub support.” Exeter Phoenix
Through the Hub Watershed provides vital support to creative talent at the start of their filmmaking career, recognising the quality and value of difference and that great stories and talent can come from anywhere. We are home to one of ten Talent Executives appointed throughout England as part of a major new BFI
NETWORK initiative to discover new voices, nurture new talent in filmmaking and support creative networks across the South West regional activity.
“To be surrounded by people passionate about film, either who are emerging or within the industry. It made me believe that short film can be a way of reaching my goals in the future.” Filmmaker