> Watershed

Championing Independent Media Creativity And Emergent Art Forms

Watershed opened as ‘Britain’s first Media Centre’ on 7th June 1982 on the first floor of two refurbished Grade II listed sheds on Bristol’s historic harbourside – the same year that Channel 4, the Commodore 64 and Sony’s first CD player also launched. Our aim was to champion independent media creativity and emergent art forms and we have held on to those founding principles of open access, cultural diversity, and innovation, forging an international reputation for developing audiences, ideas, and talent.

Exterior of Watershed - Photo by Toby Farrow

Since 1999, the original focus has evolved to embrace cultural and technical change driven by digital technologies. Working with Bristol-based companies, the local creative cluster, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, Watershed has become a pioneer in producing digital creativity collaborations crossing cultural, commercial and academic sectors.

In 2007 we purchased the head lease on the building to take control of the ground floor, improve accessibility and generate new income which allowed for the launch of the Pervasive Media Studio in 2008 which has grown to become a world-leading centre for creative technology, innovation, and talent development.

Cinema 1 audience - Photo by Jon Craig

Cinema Rediscovered, Outdoor Screening - Photo by Jack Offord

Our accessible facilities include three cinemas, a suite of three flexible event spaces, the Pervasive Media Studio, the linked Studio 5 workspace for freelance creatives and micro companies, workspace for young people, a large café/bar and offices. With audiences and participation at our heart, we present a diverse cultural programme of films, events, festivals, artist commissions, workshops, and conferences.

“We design our programmes to have a local, national and global impact. Our open approach and accessible venues ensure people from all backgrounds feel welcome. By providing the space and opportunity for different worlds to meet, Watershed plays an active role in strengthening the aspiration and the connections of the local ecology.” Clare Reddington, CEO, Watershed

Rife Alumni - Photo by Jon Aitken

We are distinctive in our attitude to curation and programme, innovating at the intersection of art, technology, and society: playfulness, relevance and care are key. Watershed takes a hands-on approach to nurturing and developing talent – Rife is our youth-led online magazine, both a magazine and a professional development programme, which genuinely changes lives by nurturing young talent from diverse backgrounds, connecting them to opportunities and careers they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

We are one of the leading UK independent cultural cinemas dedicated to screening the broad range and diversity of UK independent and world film. As the lead organisation for Film Hub South West, one of the BFI’s Film Audience Network 8 regional Film Hubs, we develop audiences and filmmaking talent across the UK. We also partner with Bristol City Council to develop and promote the city’s status as UNESCO City of Film.

View of Bristol’s harbourside from Watershed’s balcony - Photo by Chelsey Cliff

Watershed Box Office - Photo by Chelsey Cliff

Watershed’s impact is not characterised in a single programme or project, but in our ethos of openness, inclusivity, and responsibility. These attributes are shared across our whole organisation and lead to engaged audiences, flourishing talent and a competitive creative sector.

Watershed is a registered charity (No. 284 188) and a Social Enterprise


+44 (0) 117 9276444
[email protected]
1 Canons Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX

Submit your Innovation Story

Join and network with a global community of innovators  by sharing your success story with the world.



Our promise: we dislike spam as much as the next person, and promise never to break your trust in us. We will never sell data – this is only used for the INNOVATE® Newsletter