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Bristol public invited to help develop a new vision for Colston Hall

Bristol Music Trust, the charity that runs Colston Hall, are inviting the public to have their say on the future vision for Bristol’s largest music venue.

The Hall, which in June began a £48.8 million transformation to create a world-class music venue, will reopen in two years under a new name. Bristol Music Trust are inviting people to have their say on the future vision of the Hall as part of the Together Through Music campaign, which includes an online survey, a series of community consultation days taking place in the New Year and a number of artistic projects and events.

The survey, which will be live from midday today (Wednesday 14 November), invites the public to feedback on how they engage with the Hall and contribute ideas to help shape a new vision for its role in the city, including a new name.

In April 2017, Bristol Music Trust announced the name change to end the perceived association with the slave-trader Edward Colston and refocus attention on the incredible live music programme that unites and brings joy to so many.

The debate over how Edward Colston is commemorated in Bristol has been going on for many years. Colston was not a benefactor of the Hall, which was built 146 years after he died, and the decision to reopen under a new name was made unanimously by the Trust’s Board, who stated at the time: “We want to look to the future and ensure the whole city is proud of its transformed 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 amazing music.”

In September an in-depth consultation process began to inform a new vision for the Hall and its role in the city. To date this has involved a survey sent to 30,000 audience members, interviews with stakeholders including artists and funders, and a number of focus groups which included existing audience members and  people who have not attended the hall before.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust said: “The transformation of the Hall is a once in a generation opportunity to create a world-class centre for music that everyone in the city is proud of and somewhere that is open and welcoming to all.

“In order to achieve this, we’d like everyone who cares about music in Bristol to contribute to this creative consultation and help us shape a new vision for what the Hall can be, the role it can play in Bristol and the region. The name is more than a sign above the door, it must reflect what this new transformed building means to Bristol.”

To take part in the online survey, which takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, please visit the Together Through Music page. The survey opens at midday on Wednesday 14 November and will close on Wednesday 12 December.

The community consultation days take place on:

Thu 31 Jan – Redland United Reformed Church, Redland
Drop-in: 9am – 8pm

Mon 4 Feb – Easton Community Centre, Easton
Drop-in: 9am – 8pm

Tue 5 Feb – Knowle West Media Centre, Knowle West
Drop-in: 9am – 8pm

Thu 7 Feb – St Paul’s Learning Centre, St Paul’s
Drop-in: 9am – 8pm

Mon 11 Feb – Greenway Centre, Southmead
Drop-in: 9am – 8pm

The transformation of Colston Hall will create one of the best arts and learning facilities in the country and includes remodelling and upgrading the Main Hall and The Lantern, opening up the extensive cellars for the first time in 150 years – creating a new intimate performance space and a state-of-the-art education suite – and refurbishing the historic fabric of the building.

The education suites will include new classrooms and a technology lab, providing an inspiring base to educate children from across the city. It will also house the National Centre for Inclusive Excellence, providing music making opportunities for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities.

The transformation of Colston Hall marks Bristol’s biggest-ever redevelopment programme in the arts sector. The first phase of the project involved the construction of the £20 million foyer space which opened in 2009. The rest of the building has not been refurbished for 60 years, making it the only major concert hall in the UK not to have been redeveloped in recent times.

Further information on the transformation of the Hall can be found online at www.colstonhall.org/transform-the-hall or by following #transformthehall on social media channels.

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