Transformation FAQs

We’ve been asked lots of questions about our transformation plans in response to our 45k for 45m campaign. Here are our answers.

The foyer was only recently refurbished for £20m in 2009, why do you need more redevelopment?

The building of our foyer was Phase One of our transformation plans. This money was invested in the foyer and exterior of the building only, making it accessible and more customer friendly as well as environmentally friendly. In fact the last time there was major refurbishment, artists like Doris Day, Perry Como and Dean Martin topped the UK charts – it was 1954 and The Beatles haven’t even written their first song!

Phase two of our plans will transform both concert halls, education facilities and underground spaces, with the addition of a third venue.

Why has Colston Hall announced that it will change its name?

On April 26th 2017, Bristol Music Trust, the organisation that runs Colston Hall, announced that the name of Colston Hall will change when the new Hall opens in 2020.

Our reasons for this change:

We want to look to the future and ensure the whole city is proud of its transformed concert hall. The name Colston, and its associations with the slave trade,  does not reflect our values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation.

We want everyone to feel like they can come to the Hall and enjoy our amazing music. So when we reopen the new building in 2020, it will be with a new name.

This overall rebrand will be a key part of transforming the Colston Hall we have today into Bristol’s new National Centre for Music Entertainment, Education and Enterprise.

Read more about our decision here.

Why does Colston Hall need more money spent on it?

Colston Hall is in important part of Bristol’s distinctive reputation as a vibrant, exciting city. We’re a driving force behind our city’s arts and culture economy.

300,000 people visit us each year to enjoy an incredible variety of artists, from big stars like Jimmy Carr and Russell Brand to Stereophonics and Sam Smith, events such as the Bristol International Classical Season and Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival, as well as the programming in The Lantern with rising stars such as Kamasi Washington and Benjamin Clementine.

Colston Hall programs across all genres and is unique for bringing  events to the city that couldn’t happen anywhere else, such as Goldie and the Heritage Orchestra in the Harbourside, John Grant with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Fast Forward Festival. We also give unparalleled opportunity for emerging artists to bring their talent to wider audiences.

Our sister organisation, Bristol Plays Music, is the only education music hub in the UK based at a major concert venue. We owe it to our audiences, performers and the 15,000 local schoolchildren at 130 schools whose music education is supported by the hub to redevelop our facilities and ensure they are fit for purpose.

What will you spend £45 million on?

The investment will transform Colston Hall into one of the best arts and learning facilities in the country.

New classrooms and a technology lab will help create an inspiring base for Bristol Plays Music. And, at last, disabled children will learn at the Hall for the first time with a building fully accessible to all. Our ambition will help establish Bristol as the UK capital of young people’s music by 2020 and create a benchmark for other music hubs across the nation.

We’ll revitalise our two current halls, improving both acoustics and comfort. More flexible space will mean a wider variety of performances and artists. A third hall in our historic victorian cellars will also be opened. As a result, our estimate is that we’ll boost the local economy by £100 million over the first five years. Businesses and people with jobs in Bristol benefit because our audiences spend money at places other than the Hall.

Over £90 million is being spent on the Bristol Arena. Why do we need a transformed Colston Hall too?

Colston Hall has been an iconic hub for music and the arts for almost 150 years – why wouldn’t we want to redevelop it and ensure its future for the next 150?

They are two very different venues that will complement each other. Colston Hall is a more intimate concert hall for smaller audiences. We’ll work alongside the Arena to ensure that we provide a great mix of musical arts and entertainment, making Bristol one of the UK’s top cities for venues.

It also is more than just about performance – Colston Hall’s role is also about providing the musical education for the whole of the city and beyond, as well as supporting the commercial development of smaller scale music enterprises.

Will the revamp of the concert halls result in the current amazing acoustics disappearing?

Retaining our world class acoustics are a very high priority part of our design for the transformed venue. We are working with the best acousticians in the business to ensure that our redeveloped auditoriums will have international standard acoustics across a range of genres.

Will you do something about the air conditioning or heating as part of the transformation?

Yes. We know our current system is old fashioned. Our current air condition and heating systems were installed in 1954.  The natural air conditioning is piped in from the outside. So when it’s warm outside, it is warm inside and vice versa during the winter. Our new system will adopt the standards of other major concerts venues. This includes adopting high sustainability standards using our existing solar panels and more efficient power systems.

In some parts of the Hall, people are squashed up with the person they sit next to and there isn’t enough knee space. Will this change?

Yes. The current seat arrangement reflects the fact no refurbishment has taken place for over 60 years. The new halls will contain comfortable seating where audience comfort will be a top priority.

In a nutshell, what are the key benefits to Bristol and the South West of the transformation?

We will:

  • Achieve improved music education standards for the children and young people in Bristol;
  • Boost the Bristol economy by hundreds of millions of pounds in the first five years;
  • Create a revitalised concert hall worthy of the 21st century.

How can we help?

You can help by supporting our #45kfor45m campaign, sharing with your friends, and help us ensure the future of Colston Hall for generations to come,