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Mayor Marvin Rees gets behind the scenes tour of Colston Hall transformation progress

On 18 April 2019 the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees visited Colston Hall to have a first-hand look at the £48.8 million transformation as final demolition works to remove the balcony and iconic stage are nearing completion.

Mayor Rees, with colleagues Cabinet Lead Helen Godwin and Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney, was shown around the building by Bristol Music Trust’s Chief Executive Louise Mitchell and Director of Creative Learning and Engagement Phil Castang, alongside Bristol City Council’s Project Manager Andrew Searle.

As well as being given a tour of the building site, Mayor Rees was given an insight into the next steps in the project, which include carefully removing the ceiling and roof before the Hall is re-fitted to become one of the best arts and learning facilities in the country.

The transformation includes remodelling and upgrading the Main Hall and Lantern, opening up the extensive cellars for the first time in 150 year – creating a new intimate performance space and a state-of-the-art education suite – and refurbishing the historic fabric of the building.

Throughout the tour, Louise Mitchell updated Mayor Rees on the educational arm of the Bristol Music Trust, Bristol Plays Music, which provides music education for 19,000 Bristol children a year. The newly built education suites will include new classrooms and a technology lab, increasing music making sessions at the venue by 75 per cent.

Louise Mitchell said:

“We have really enjoyed showing Mayor Rees the progress of the Colston Hall project. For us it isn’t just about protecting and improving the fabric of the building but demonstrating the impact the transformation project will have on the music we can present on our stages and the young musicians of the city who will have world-class facilities in which to learn and perform.

We are grateful to be working with Bristol City Council and the Mayor to revitalise the Hall and this transformation will only increase our reach and the work we are able to do.”

Mayor Rees said:

“It has been fascinating for me and Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney to see behind the scenes and witness the first stage of the major transformation of the Hall.

“We have worked closely with the Trust to bring about the long overdue improvements and renovation to the hall which will add to Bristol’s cultural offer and continue to attract national and international acts.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the Trust’s education plans develop for involving those who up until now have felt excluded from the arts and culture scene in Bristol.”

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 to not be redeveloped in recent times.

Further information on the transformation of the Hall can be found here or by following #transformthehall on social media channels.

Photography by Dominika Scheibinger