Bristol Music Trust calls on Government to match £10m funding from Bristol City Council

On Tuesday 10 February Bristol Music Trust took its transformation campaign to Westminster, calling on the Government to match the £10m proposed by Bristol City Council, to help secure the future of Colston Hall.

MPs and key music industry figures met at the House of Commons to join Bristol Music Trust in its latest step on the road to transformation, where they were treated to a performance by popular contemporary folk musician Seth Lakeman. The event saw Bristol MPs from all three political parties backing the campaign, with speeches from Lib Dem MP and Minister for Communities Stephen Williams, who hosted the event, Dame Dawn Primarolo (Labour MP for Bristol South) and Charlotte Leslie (Conservative MP for Bristol North West).

The Trust’s £45m campaign to transform the 19th century building into an international standard Centre for Music Entertainment, Education and Enterprise aims to make Bristol the UK Capital for Young People’s Music. It currently runs the only music education hub in the country to be located in a professional performance venue.

Stephen Williams, Lib Dem MP for Bristol West and Minister for Communities, commented: “We have been working tirelessly since September to help Colston Hall secure the essential funding to be transformed. I am delighted to have taken this campaign to Westminster and to highlight the potential and current successes of this important venue. Colston Hall is a fantastic concert venue but is also an integral part of the community through its fantastic educational programmes.”

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust, added: “We’ve brought our campaign to the House of Commons to beat the drum for Bristol, and the potential we have to really make a difference within the city and beyond. Colston Hall has a unique opportunity to become a leader in our role as a music education hub. We already reach thousands of young people each year and this programme will ensure we go even further to inspire and engage with future generations. We want to see Bristol as the UK Capital for Young People’s Music and see no reason why we can’t achieve this.

“The redevelopment will also ensure we have international standard facilities, meaning we can attract the very best performers and become a national asset for the UK’s cultural offering. It means creating a significantly better quality, modernised venue with flexible spaces that are fit for purpose.

“We need the support of our national politicians, so, I am calling for the Government to show that they understand the national significance of the South West’s only major concert venue. We want the Government to match the £10 million offered by Bristol City Council and help secure the future of Colston Hall, for the country.”

Louise Mitchell’s words, as well the activity of Bristol Music Trust over the past few months, ensured backing from MPs across all parties, as well as national music figures, including musician Jamie Cullum.

The £45 million transformation plans for the iconic building include remodelling the main auditorium, redeveloping the second hall into a versatile venue, opening up the cellars for the first time in 100 years for educational and workshop space and restoring the frontage to its Victorian magnificence.

It will be the last of the main concert halls in the country to have undergone a major redevelopment since the 1980s and plans are for the works to start in the Hall’s 150th year in 2017, ready for opening in 2019.

Colston Hall is also driving Bristol’s bid to become the UK Capital of Young People’s Music by pledging to make an impact on every single child in Bristol.

With the right funding, by 2020 Colston Hall will be offering 5,000 free or affordably priced tickets a year, while the transformed hall will also nurture future musicians through its Creative, Enterprise and Music Education Centre.