News

New Hall, new 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.

Recognising Bristol’s history

We’ll talk to artists and local groups about the Hall’s role in the community and how we should recognise Colston’s name in the new building.

We want to embrace our position at the centre of this naming debate to work beyond the building and help lead conversations across Bristol about how we address and acknowledge the city’s connections to the slave trade.

Ask us Anything

Still got questions? Have a look at the FAQs below for more details of our decision to change the name.

Q. What will the new name be?

A. It’s too early to say at this stage. We need to ensure that we get the right name for the Hall that will take it forward for another 150 years. The new name could include recognition of a commercial partner, and this is a fundamental part of our fundraising plans, but we’ll be consulting with audiences and other stakeholders during the closure period before announcing a new name in 2020.

Q. What made you decide to change the name?

A. We’ve been clear since the start of our transformation campaign, which we launched in September 2014, that we would be reviewing the name as part of our redevelopment. We’re now at the right stage in the campaign to focus on the issues around the name Colston and make our position going forward clear. Our Board of Trustees has unanimously made the decision that when we reopen the new building in 2020, it will be with a new name.

Q. The Hall is 150 years old this year. Why has it taken so long to think about changing the name?

A. Bristol Music Trust only took over the management of Colston Hall in 2011. As soon as we launched our redevelopment plans in 2014, we announced our commitment to reviewing the name. However, the Hall is a major Bristol institution and changing its name and identity is a move that needs careful thought and discussion. Having listened to a broad range of opinions and ideas, Bristol Music Trust is committed to reopening the transformed Hall with a new name, and we will consult during closure as to what that should be.

Q. Will Bristol residents be able to vote on a new name for the Hall?

A. We’ll be talking to audiences and other stakeholder groups about the role of the Hall in the community and the name at multiple stages in the redevelopment period, but we won’t be putting the name to a public vote. 

If we’re unable to work with a corporate sponsor on the naming rights, which is a fundamental part of our fundraising plans, the name will form part of an in-depth rebranding process, where customers’ views and the Hall’s vision and values will be used as part of a creative approach to finding a new name.

Q. Is Bristol Music Trust trying to erase or censure the city’s past?

A. We are in no way trying to erase recognition of Bristol’s role in the slave trade, and we recognise the importance of remembering the part this city played in those events as a way of shaping our city for the better moving forward. We want to embrace our position at the centre of this naming discussion to work beyond the building and help lead conversations across Bristol about diversity and inclusivity.

However, as the South West’s flagship concert venue, we also see changing the name as part of our wider redevelopment plans as an opportunity to make a clear statement that Edward Colston does not represent the values of Bristol Music Trust.

Q. Who was Edward Colston?

A. Edward Colston was a merchant and slave trader as well as a high-profile philanthropist who donated money to found schools and almshouses in Bristol and was then commemorated across the city in streets and landmarks. The first Colston Hall opened in 1867, 146 years after Edward Colston died, and none of his money was used to fund the Hall.

Update 03.05.2017

We have been listening to the range of comments shared since we made this announcement and have added the following update to the FAQs based on the most common questions asked.

Q. Was Colston Hall built with Edward Colston’s money?

A. No. Colston Hall was not built with Edward Colston’s money. It was built 146 years after he died, in 1867, on the site of the former Colston Boys’ School on Colston Street.

Q. Is this a response to the recent campaign to change the name?

A. This announcement is not a direct response to the recent campaign. This is an issue that has been ongoing for many, many years. Ever since the Trust took over the running of the Hall in 2011 and launched our transformation campaign in 2014 we have committed to reviewing the name.

We have thought carefully about this. Our core mission is to provide Bristol with an inclusive and welcoming music venue and music education service open to all. We feel that a crucial part of achieving this mission is to open a transformed venue in 2020 under a new name.

We will work with communities on how best to acknowledge the history of the building and its association with Edward Colston in the newly transformed hall.

Q. Is this just an attempt to make money from selling naming rights?

A. We are an arts charity, not a profit-making organisation. Money raised from naming rights would go towards the transformation of Colston Hall into a venue fit for the 21st century.

Q. Why are you transforming the Hall?

A. There has been no major refurbishment of Colston Hall for the last sixty years. Indeed, it is the only major concert hall in the UK not to have been redeveloped in recent times. In doing so we will deliver a venue that is a leading European, national and regional centre for the performing arts.

The transformation will also create the UK’s first National Centre for Advanced Training for young musicians with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, with the ambition to do for disabled music what the Paralympics has done for disabled sport.

The transformation of the Hall is expected to generate up to £20.6m a year for the Bristol economy for the following twenty years (2020-2040) – an increase of 19% compared to today – and 379 full-time-equivalent jobs.

Click here to find out more about our Transformation. 

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