Bristol Music Trust reinforces commitment to Colston Hall name review

Bristol Music Trust, which runs Colston Hall, has moved to set the record straight on the future name of the venue after reports in the weekend media suggested that it had bowed to pressure from campaigners to remove all association with Edward Colston.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “We were clear right from the start of our campaign to raise funding to transform the Hall, that we had listened to peoples’ concerns regarding negative associations with Edward Colston and that we would be reviewing the name as part of our redevelopment.

“We want the Hall to be a place open to all, that’s why we’re working so hard to champion accessibility for performers and audiences, as well as those who will be able to participate in music education and enterprise, and reviewing the name has always been part of our plan.

“Colston Hall is well known locally, regionally and nationally, as one of the major arts and entertainment centres in the country. Changing our identity is a major move that requires careful consideration. As we have always stated, we need to go through a thorough process that takes into account views from local, national and even international stakeholders and partners.”

In September 2014, the Trust launched its £45 million transformation campaign to establish the venue as a national centre for entertainment, education and enterprise. As part of the redevelopment, the Trust is also aiming to set new standards for music accessibility, creating the UK’s first National Centre for Advanced Training for young musicians with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). To date, around two thirds of the funds have been raised, including £5m from the Treasury, £10m from Bristol City Council, £10m from the Arts Council England and just under £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mitchell added: “We are fundraising for a substantial transformation of the existing building and are currently exploring naming rights, which offer an opportunity to make a real difference to the campaign. Our continuing commitment and focus is to be great stewards of this historic venue that has been at Bristol’s heart for so many generations and realise our ambition to deliver the world-class concert facility that Bristol deserves.”

The redevelopment will complete the transformation of Colston Hall, which started in 2009 with the development of the new foyer, and create one of the best arts and learning facilities in the country. The Main Hall, the Lantern, cellars and historic foyer spaces will be sympathetically redeveloped to create performance spaces of international quality and comfort. A third venue will be built in the cellars, alongside world-class education spaces for young people. The entire venue will also be made fully accessible for audiences, performers and staff.

Plans for the transformation of Colston Hall can be viewed online here and a public consultation survey is open until Friday 24 February.