IGN Insights

Knowle West Media Centre

Centre for Progressive Policy Francesca Cave square

Francesca Cave

IGN programme coordinator

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For over 30 years, Knowle West Media Centre has delivered cultural programmes in an area of South Bristol, helping to reverse entrenched social disadvantage. It has catalysed inclusive growth in the community by:

  • Supporting local people to engage in cultural projects 
  • Helping local talent to learn new skills and develop their career ambitions 
  • Capturing the benefits of greater cultural capital locally

Making culture accessible

Knowle West has traditionally struggled with social deprivation, low educational attainment and marginalisation. The Media Centre seeks to reverse these trends by creating an inclusive space that makes culture accessible to everyone within the community.

The centre adopts a broad view of culture, reflecting the lived experiences of local residents. It integrates arts, humanities, STEM and technology to form a unique Knowle West media offer that reflects and embodies the voices, perspectives and challenges emerging from, and experienced within, the neighbourhood.

In its commitment to making positive changes, the centre offers local artists residencies to develop their artistic practice, and organises retreats to help emerging talent learn new skills and hone their craft. 

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Dr Carolyn Hassan says...

'Our mission is to use arts, tech and care to make thriving communities. We are working with multiple stakeholders, bringing different kinds of expertise into the room, while focusing our work on citizens, and the challenges and ideas that come from the community itself'

Dr Carolyn Hassan, Founder and CEO, Knowle West Media Centre

Investing in the skills, confidence and agency of local people

A clear example of the centre’s commitment to inclusive growth is its investment in providing opportunities to explore creative technology, including filmmaking and media production. The creative and film industries have often excluded those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who cannot afford to do unpaid internships and work experience. By bringing filmmaking skills and technology to the Knowle West community, the centre trains and upskills a new generation of filmmakers, enabling them to tell their own stories.

The centre also cultivates broader social and employability skills in young people. This includes building confidence, learning about social action and understanding project funding. These softer skills support young people to secure employment or establish their own creative initiatives, expanding networks and contributing to local economic growth.

Building lasting value

Knowle West Media Centre focuses on creating value that ‘sticks’ to the community. It is about building social and cultural capital that remains anchored in the community, ensuring that those in the next generation have access to cultural opportunities, recognise the value of their stories and ideas, and aspire to careers in creative technology and the arts.


Knowle West Media Centre is a beacon of inclusive growth, actively shaping a community through culture and creativity that is not only accessible but also a source of lasting value.