A new chapter has begun in the story of a Bridport landmark.
The running of the Literary and Scientific Institute (LSi) in East Street has been restructured (with effect from Monday, August 2) to ensure the building has a viable and sustainable future in the post-Covid-19 environment.
Owners Bridport Area Development Trust worked closely with Bridport Town Council, Dorset Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and others to preserve the historic LSi at the heart of the community. It re-opened in 2018 after a nine-year restoration from near- dereliction – seven years to raise the funds and transfer the building from Dorset Council, two years of structural work.
The lead tenant is Crowdfunder, which has operated from the building for three years and is one of the UK’s leading crowdfunding platforms. It has forged strong local links, generating more than £750,000 for more than 250 projects – individuals, charities, small businesses – within 20 miles of Bridport.
Crowdfunder’s sub-tenant is 3DCentre (3DC), founded by renowned international human rights lawyers Emily Bolton and Clive Stafford Smith to mentor young people in human rights and social, economic and environmental justice.
Simon Deverell, founder and creative director of Crowdfunder said: “Crowdfunder has been helping thousands of charities, communities, businesses and individuals to raise funds needed to establish themselves and to survive the pandemic.
“As a ‘people business’, we have been counting down the days to when we can re-open the doors to Bridport and the surrounding communities.
“Crowdfunder and 3DCentre will be resetting this beautiful space in a sustainable way, creating an accessible hub for work, education, mentoring and creativity. We are going to release an exciting schedule of events, but also from Monday, September 6 ,and in line with Covid-safe government guidelines, we will offer: hot desks bookable by the day (or half-day); permanent desk spaces; meeting spaces; podcast recording and editing facilities; video conferencing; events and presentation space; and monthly network lunches.
“All facilities will be bookable in advance online on the basis that if you are profit-based then there’s a fee, if you’re a charity or community group and can’t pay then access is free (more details to follow).
“We also encourage community groups, arts organisations and others to consider the LSi as a place to host your own events. We would love to hear what you have in mind. Feel free to get in touch, to knock on the door and say hello. We are getting ready to welcome you all this autumn.”
Dr Nick Hollely, of 3DC, said: “Bridport’s 3DCentre is a pilot hub for decentralising third sector opportunities for young people. Most major third sector organisations are based in major cities. The pandemic has accelerated uptake of communications technologies that means this no longer needs to be the case.
“3DC’s tenancy is returning the LSi to its roots as a portal to a better future for young people in the area. 3DC shares space and synergy with Crowdfunder, who will help our apprentices fund their third sector apprenticeships and projects.
“3DC has 22 apprentices at schools and universities in the South West working with 3DC founder Clive Stafford Smith on projects as diverse as creating bills of rights and responsibilities for their schools, to testing off-grid renewable energy systems, to mapping out community responses to racism, to delivering 100,000 books to a bookshop bombed in the recent Gaza war, to investigating the cases of innocent people executed in the US since 1978 with the aim of putting another nail in the coffin of the death penalty.
“3DC has lots of exciting plans. Keep up to date at: web 3dc.org.uk ; Facebook https:// www.facebook.com/3DC.org.uk ; Instagram https://www.instagram.com/3dc_org/ ”
A BADT spokesperson said: “These new arrangements are the result of more than a year’s intense work to ensure a viable and sustainable future for the LSi in the face of changing business conditions and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The plans are also consistent with the aims of the Trust and the LSi in the benefits they provide to the community. The intention is to create a new relationship with the building’s tenants to deliver something very different and dynamic for Bridport.
“Crowdfunder and 3DC are involved in important social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. They are enablers and facilitators of business growth, charitable outreach and personal development. Their relationship will be close and mutually beneficial and their presence in the LSi will generate the income essential to maintaining a working building while continuing to provide a valuable resource at the heart of the community.”