Sparks Bristol lease extended until December 2025
The old Marks & Spencers building in Broadmead saw massive changes in 2023. Now renamed Sparks Bristol, the four-storey department store was taken on by charities Artspace Lifespace and Global Goals Centre. Since opening in May 2023, Sparks Bristol has welcomed over 350,000 visitors. They recently announced that all their hard work has paid off and the lease for the building has been extended to December 2025.
The vision for the building is to keep it in use by the community rather than it standing empty and provide an environment in which people can learn imaginative ways to live more sustainably.
“Each area has its own department, and there’s a strong message of reuse and recycle throughout. It’s very Bristol. I personally thought it was a great use of an empty building, it looks fab.” Visitor, Caz Milford
The ground floor of Sparks Bristol houses the departments of Fashion, Reuse, Food, Education, Nature, Travel and Energy. Running so much activity has been a massive challenge for the small charitable team. In 2023 Sparks supported over 120 local ethical traders. The retail section was particularly busy over the Christmas period and managing the needs of so many different independent retail outlets was a massive learning curve – hats off to all the hardworking independent traders out there!
The Department of Reuse has proved especially popular, running regular workshops for repairing electrical items and clothing. Plans to offer more ways for people to avoid buying new items include opening an electrical cable library and a shop selling repaired electricals. Last year the efforts to reuse materials at Sparks saved over 11,000 items from landfill.
“It was important for us that Sparks be a space for everyone. We are proud of what we have achieved to date, with minimal funding. We look forward to developing it further now that we have been awarded more time to do so and hope to make back our initial investment towards the end of 2024” says Kathryn Chiswell Jones, Company Manager at Artspace Lifespace. “We’ve already seen a strong social return on our investment. I have been inspired by the connections and partnerships developed at Sparks, and the potential for independent organisations to drive the revitalisation of the high street and sustainable redevelopment of Broadmead”.
In 2023, Sparks hosted Aardman Animations’ free children’s workshops and film screenings, Bristol Palestine Film Festival’s ‘Poetry On Palestine’ event and Craig Revel Horwood held a 100 person dance masterclass! 2024 expects to see more community events at Sparks throughout the building and our events spaces are now available to hire.
“I love this place so much, I wish it existed everywhere” Sparks Bristol visitor.
As well as places for the public, Sparks Bristol has private studios and desk spaces available for people who work in creative industries. If you’d like to rent a studio or desk space head to https://sparksbristol.co.uk/hire-a-space/
Global Goals Centre are currently fundraising to provide more educational workshops this year. Last year 2,260 children and young people visited the store to learn about sustainability and repair skills and 1,315 people received energy advice. In 2024, Global Goals Centre are introducing team events for companies to improve their sustainability credentials through a range of workshops focussing on positive solutions to climate and social justice issues.
Global Goals Centre will be continuing to provide educational workshops and are currently fundraising to deliver more events and schools workshop to inspire action for climate and social justice?. To support Global Goals Centre’s vital educational work you can donate here https://app.goodhub.com/sparks2023
Now that the lease has been extended Sparks will be working to improve the building, making it even more of an accessible, welcoming oasis in the city centre. Next time you’re in Broadmead pop in to take a look for yourself!