Creative college’s £4.5m extension slots into place in ex-amusement arcade and music venue building

July 30, 2021

A former city centre amusement arcade will fittingly become a hub for students to learn creative computing, software development and games art when it reopens in September as part of an extension to Bristol’s Access Creative College.

Phase 2 of the college’s Bristol city centre campus on All Saints Street, which includes a music studio and event space, also includes the legendary former Bristol music venue Bierkeller. 

Harry’s Amusements, pictured below, and the Bierkeller, which closed three years ago, form part of the college’s £4.5m, 13,000 sq ft state-of-the-art events and education space – phase two of its Bristol campus development, which opened next door in 2019.

The extension’s cutting-edge sound facilities and classrooms will be used for a range of creative courses and will more than double the college’s floor space as it looks to develop the talent and skills that are vital to the future growth of the creative industries in the city.

Access Creative College Bristol centre manager Mark Smithers said:  “What’s so inspiring for our students is that, as we all know, so many of the bands that played at Bierkeller – including Nirvana, Stone Roses and the Arctic Monkeys – went on to garner worldwide success.

“Harry’s Amusements also has a special place in a lot of Bristolians’ hearts, and although its days as an arcade are behind it, it’s great to be able to play homage to its history too and use the space to accommodate our faculty of gaming courses.

“2021 is Access Creative College’s 27th anniversary and as we look back at what the college has achieved in that time, our Bristol city centre campus is an incredibly exciting place to teach the next generation of digital and arts professionals.” 

Facilities in the extension will include an event space and stage, music studio and a range of production pods where students will be able to mix music, create podcasts and record video and sound.

There will also be classrooms packed with the latest technology as well as a number of breakout spaces and student collaboration areas.

Since it opened in March 2109, the £5m phase one of Access Creative College’s digital and games campus has rolled out a range of courses, including esports management, creative computing, software development, games art, games technology, film, video & photography and graphic & digital design.

Access Creative College was Bristol’s first college with a sole focus on the creative industries and previously operated from its campus in Hengrove for more than 18 years.

Artist development, music technology & production and vocal artist courses, which were previously run from the South Bristol site, will now be brought into the main campus in the city centre, where its new facilities will play a pivotal role in skills development.

Phase 2 will open to students on September 24.

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