Vision and Renaming

Help us develop our vision for a world-class centre for music in the heart of Bristol

In June 2018 we began the largest capital arts programme ever to take place in the South West – the three-year, £48.8 million transformation of Colston Hall into a world-class centre for music performance, education and enterprise.

To truly deliver on the promise of this once in a generation project, we must develop a new vision for the Hall which helps us to:

  • bring a diverse programme of incredible artists from around the world to Bristol
  • nurture new home-grown talent
  • bring people together through music performance and opportunities for life-long learning
  • create everlasting memories
  • open our doors to everyone in the city and region

We have been at the heart of Bristol’s entertainment and cultural life for over 150 years, but for a long time the Hall has been the lightning rod for a debate on the legacy of the slave-trader and philanthropist Edward Colston, which has distracted from our core purpose: to share the brilliance and joy of live music with everyone.

Since we launched our campaign to transform the Hall in 2014, we have reflected on what a world-class music venue in the heart of Bristol looks like and in 2017 we announced that included reopening under a new name following the transformation.

Built 146 years after his death, Edward Colston was not a benefactor to the Hall and there is no material connection with the man or his wealth, which was in large part derived from the profits of trading in enslaved people. At the time of the announcement in April 2017, we said:

“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.”

The reaction to the decision has provoked a lot of debate in the city and beyond, with strong feelings on all sides.

We have listened carefully to what people have to say, and while we remain committed to finding a new name, we will also continue to listen and discuss the issues it raises.

We believe this is about more than a sign above the door. We believe that the new name should reflect a new vision for the Hall and its role in the city, and we need your help to build that vision and decide on a new name.

We have undertaken extensive consultation with our audiences, city leaders and interest groups in the city, and we are developing proposals for how we remember our history in the new Hall. In December 2018 we opened an online public survey to gather more feedback on how people engage with the Hall and ideas to help shape our future.

We hosted a number of community consultation days in venues around the city in January/February 2019, where hundreds came to see our proposals, ask questions, and contribute ideas in person.

We are also developing an artistic events programme which responds to the issues raised by the decision, ensuring that we do not forget the past and bring people together to creatively reflect on the history and legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.

Finally, we hosted or first Discovery Day at the Hall in March 2019, at which people found out more about all aspects of the transformation.

Together, through music, we can create a new vision for the Hall.

To find out more, follow the links.

Transformation Podcast

Episode 2 – What’s in a name?

In this second episode of our podcast, we discuss one of the most complex decisions taken so far – the decision to reopen the transformed hall with a new name.

We talk to our Chief Executive Louise Mitchell, former Trustee and venue owner Marti Burgess, artist Savinder Bual, and children at Cotham Gardens Primary School about the decision and the impact it is having in the city.

Listen to more from our Transformation Podcast series here.

Take our survey

How we are creating a new vision and name for Colston Hall

Community Consultation Days

Help shape our future and the renaming of the Hall; take part in a community consultation day.

Artistic Programme

Discover the artistic programme we've curated in response to the decision to reopen Colston Hall in 2020 with a new name...