fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Colston Hall renovation given green light

Sajid Javid, the UK’s secretary of state for communities and local government, has granted planning permission for the £48.8m transformation of Bristol venue Colston Hall.

The renovation plans, announced last February, will see the 150-year-old music venue expand its main hall, increasing capacity from its current 1,932, and see the main stage expanded to accommodate larger bands and production.

The Lantern, Colston Hall’s smaller second performance space, will be redeveloped into an “elegant and versatile” venue with flexible seating, while the venue’s cellars will also be opened up for the first time in a century, housing a new performance area and workshop spaces.

New education suites, meanwhile, will include new classrooms and a technology lab, as well as the National Centre for Inclusive Excellence, providing music-making opportunities for young people with disabilities.

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, which operates the Bristol City Council-owned venue, says: “Now our plans have been approved we’ve reached the final milestone as we approach the start of the hall’s transformation.

“We are incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of our partners and supporters who have got us to this stage.

“The hall hasn’t been updated since it opened in the 1950s, so it’s long overdue a transformational refurbishment that will give Bristol and the south west a world-class venue to be proud of as we make our detailed plans a reality.”

“We’ve reached the final milestone as we approach the start of the hall’s transformation”

The council has selected construction firm Willmott Dixon, which built the hall’s new foyer, completed in 2009, as the preferred bidder for the redevelopment.

Javid’s approval comes as Arts Council England confirms its commitment of £10 million towards the transformation – the largest single capital grant in south-west England – while a further £5m will be provided by UK exchequer.

“Bristol has an internationally renowned cultural offer which also makes a major contribution to the local economy,” says Bristol mayor Marvin Rees. “We are really pleased that Arts Council has committed this funding alongside our own investment and that of other city partners.

“There is no doubt that it will bring long-term benefits to people in a number of ways. First and foremost, it will make culture more accessible to everyone, but it will also help more people participate in the arts, improve education facilities for young people and attract more people to the city by providing a world-class music venue fit for the future.”

Bristol Music Trust last April announced it would look at renaming the venue to eradicate its ties to Edward Colston, a prominent local businessman and MP, owing to his ties to the Royal African Company, which was involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Other landmarks named for Colston, who founded schools, hospitals and almshouses in the city, include Colston Tower, several roads and three schools, as well as the Colston bun, a favourite in local bakeries.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

New COO for Bristol’s Colston Hall

Bristol Music Trust, the operator of the largest concert hall in south-west England, Colston Hall, has appointed a new COO as it gears up for a major programme of refurbishment.

New chief operating officer Clare Jack, most recently development director at Bath Festivals, will work closely with trust CEO Louise Mitchell to “take a strategic overview of the financial, commercial and operational competitiveness of the organisation” and “[drive] forward the financial imperatives of the business in order to support, develop and sustain [its] charitable objectives”, reads a statement from the charity.

Prior to joining Bath Festivals, which organises multi-arts festivals in the city of the same name, Mitchell was executive director at Bradford-upon-Avon venue Wiltshire Music Centre.

“She will be vital to our work of ensuring the success of our exciting transformation project”

The 1,932-capacity Colston Hall, named for 17th-century businessman and philanthropist Edward Colston, announced in April it is to rebrand ahead of its reopening after a multimillion-pound programme of redevelopment. The venue’s association with Colston has been controversial due to his role in the slave trade; “the name ‘Colston’ does not reflect the trust’s values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation,” said Mitchell at the time.

Commenting on Jack’s hiring, Mitchell says: “We are delighted that Clare Jack will be joining us at such an important time for Bristol Music Trust and Colston Hall. Clare has an outstanding track record of shaping the commercial and operational arms of businesses, as well as being a passionate lover of music and the arts.

“She will be vital to our work of ensuring the success of our exciting transformation project of our main hall and lantern buildings and helping us to be business ready for the reopening of our concert hall in 2020.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Bristol’s Colston Hall to drop controversial name

Colston Hall, the UK venue at the centre of a recent naming row over its ties to 17th-century slaver Edward Colston, has announced its intention to rebrand as part of a multimillion-pound programme of redevelopment.

At a press conference today, Louise Mitchell, chief executive venue operator Bristol Music Trust (BMT), said: “The name ‘Colston’ does not reflect the trust’s values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation. We want to look to the future and ensure the whole city is proud of its transformed concert hall, and so, when we reopen the new building in 2020, it will be with a new name.”

Mitchell denied last month that the 1,932-cap. venue, which has hosted shows by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Bob Marley, David Bowie and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, had “bowed to pressure from campaigners to remove all association with Edward Colston” but said BMT “would be reviewing the name as part of our redevelopment”.

She reiterated today that Colston Hall could be renamed after a commercial partner, saying the trust is “looking to engage with commercial organisations about sponsorship opportunities”.

Edward Colston (1636–1721) was a prominent local businessman and MP who founded schools, hospitals and almshouses in Bristol. A bronze statue in the city bears the inscription: “Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.”

“The name ‘Colston’ does not reflect the trust’s values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation”

However, his legacy as an official of the Royal African Company, which was involved in the transatlantic slave trade, proves more problematic. Bristolians Massive Attack have refused to play at the venue until its name is changed, and Nigerian-born historian David Olusoga penned an opinion piece in The Guardian in March calling the name ‘Colston Hall’ an “affront to a multicultural city”.

Other landmarks named for Colston include Colston Tower, several roads and three schools, as well as the Colston bun, a favourite in local bakeries.

BMT trustee Marti Burgess comments: “We want to use this as an opportunity to open discussions with the Bristol public about how Colston Hall can reflect the diversity and inclusivity of our city. The Hall’s 150th anniversary this year is the perfect opportunity to begin these discussions.

“We will be appointing an artist to help us talk to local groups about Colston 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 discussion 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.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Colston Hall hits out at media over naming row

British music venue Colston Hall has denied reports it is to accede to protesters’ demands to change its name.

A statement from the 1,932-cap. music venue, in Bristol, south-west England – which recently announced plans for a £48 million programme of refurbishment – says it has “moved to set the record straight on the future name of the venue, after reports in the weekend media suggested that it had bowed to pressure from campaigners to remove all association with Edward Colston”.

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of venue operator Bristol Music Trust, says it had always planned to hold a consultation on the name of Colston Hall. “We were clear right from the start of our campaign to raise funding to transform the hall that we had listened to people’s concerns regarding negative associations with Edward Colston,” she explains, “and that we would be reviewing the name as part of our redevelopment. […]

“Colston Hall is well known, locally, regionally and nationally, as one of the major arts and entertainment centres in the country. Changing our identity is a major move that requires careful consideration. As we have always stated, we need to go through a thorough process that takes into account views from local, national and even international stakeholders and partners.”

The venue is named after Edward Colston, a prominent local businessman and MP who founded schools, hospitals and almshouses in Bristol. A bronze statue in the city bears the inscription: “Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.”

However, Colston Hall’s association with its namesake has become controversial in recent years, as Colston was an official of the Royal African Company, which was involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Bristolians Massive Attack have refused to play at the venue until its name is changed, and Nigerian-born historian David Olusoga penned an opinion piece in The Guardian on Sunday calling the name ‘Colston Hall’ an “affront to a multicultural city”.

“We were clear right from the start of our campaign to raise funding to transform the hall that we had listened to people’s concerns regarding negative associations with Edward Colston”

An organisation called Countering Colston, meanwhile, is also pressuring the city’s Colston Girls’ School to change its name.

Bristol city councillor Richard Eddy says to change the name “would only motivate others to suggest that Bristol was attempting to hide a shameful past by trying to expunge Colston from its history books.

“One cannot change the past, nor should we seek to rewrite or forget it. It has been rightly said that those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

One compromise that could please both sides (or, more likely, neither) is to rename the venue after a corporate sponsor – something Mitchell says Bristol Music Trust is exploring.

“We are fundraising for a substantial transformation of the existing building,” she says, “and are currently exploring naming rights, which offer an opportunity to make a real difference to the campaign.

“Our continuing commitment and focus is to be great stewards of this historic venue that has been at Bristol’s heart for so many generations and realise our ambition to deliver the world-class concert facility that Bristol deserves.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Colston Hall plans for “long-overdue” revamp

Bristol venue Colston Hall has announced plans for a £48 million refurbishment in a bid to become a “world-class music hub for the south-west” of England.

Under the plans, which opened to public consultation on Friday, the venue’s main hall will be increased from its current capacity of 1,932 and see its main stage expanded to accommodate larger bands and production equipment.

The Lantern, Colston Hall’s smaller second performance space, will be redeveloped into an “elegant and versatile” venue with flexible seating, while the venue’s cellars will also be opened up for the first time in a century, housing a new performance area and workshop spaces.

The work will form what Colston Hall describes as “phase two” of its redevelopment, following the construction of a £20m new foyer in 2009. It notes that while “the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have played” the venue, it remains “the only major concert hall in the UK not to have been redeveloped in recent times”.

“The hall hasn’t been updated since the 1950s, so it’s long overdue a refurbishment that will give Bristol and the West Country a world-class venue to be proud of”

Speaking at the launch of the public consultation, Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, said: “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Colston Hall, we enter a key stage in the second phase of our transformation programme.

“The hall hasn’t been updated since the 1950s, so it’s long overdue a refurbishment that will give Bristol and the West Country a world-class venue to be proud of.

“Today, we invite the public to view our plans for the hall that will transform it into a performance centre fit for the 21st century and secure its place as a leading national arts centre for the next 150 years.”

Following the public consultation, a formal planning application will be submitted later this year.

A new arena, jointly operated by Live Nation and SMG Europe, is due to open in Bristol in 2020.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.