If we were everyone’s cup of tea, we’d be mugs
Roll for the Soul opened on July 1, 2013. Lots has happened since. Nelson Street’s unrecognisable (for better or worse) and RftS has developed a personality of its own thanks to the people who use it and the people who work here.
It’s not exactly as we thought it would be. When we were planning RftS, our imaginations were too feeble to see beyond a worthier version of Look Mum No Hands! But we’ve realised that actually there’s more to life than bikes.
Bikes are bloody great, but so is music and visual art and activism and a whole load of other stuff. We’re inspired by people who get off their backsides and create their own culture, rather than lapping up the nonsense that we’re encouraged to buy every day and pretty much everywhere. We’ve been lucky to meet a lot of these people since we opened, and we’re very proud that they use our space and support us, just as we want to support them.
DIY music, in particular, has become a really important part of what we’re about. (Here’s some blah about why that is.) So has a fierce commitment to independence and to supporting other social enterprises. In the cultural desert of the city centre, these things matter.
We know we’re not to everyone’s taste. But the people who’ve supported us since we opened have given us the confidence to let RftS be itself. In fact, they’ve made it into itself. We’re very grateful.
The future? Running an organisation that meets clear social aims (paying a living wage, supporting other social enterprises and voluntary groups, reinvesting surplus in promoting cycling in Bristol) while also making enough money to survive will always be a challenge. It can be done though (we look with pride at our partners at The Bristol Bike Project, for example). We’ve been lucky enough to have support from Bristol cyclists and cycling organisations of all types, and from lots of other people. They use the space to run events, play music, start and end rides, hold meetings and just get together. Which is what it’s all about. RftS will only survive and thrive if people make it their own.
We’ll continue to try to create an environment that people enjoy, and provide a space that people can use creatively and for the social good. We want to know what you want, so drop us a line via the contact page and tell us.