Our new name
We’ve changed more than our name, we’re transforming our organisation to break down barriers and cross boundaries.
On Wednesday 23 September 2020 we announced our new name – Bristol Beacon .
Our former name, Colston Hall, acted as a memorial to the slave trader Edward Colston, and meant that not everyone felt welcome or that they belong in their city’s music venue.
Our organisation was founded long after Colston’s death, and has no direct connection to him, financial or otherwise.
This is an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to play our part in creating a fairer and more equal society.
And with this new beginning, we can do more: providing opportunities to create and experience incredible music moments like never before.
Journey to our new name
Throughout this journey to a new name we have spoken to lots of people. We have undertaken significant consultation right across the city. We have involved our audiences, partners and communities from all across Bristol and have spoken to over 4,000 people about their hopes for the new venue and thoughts on our name.
We wanted to make sure a new name would come directly from the hearts and voices of our city. This consultation took the form of surveys, interviews, focus groups and community events.
Jun 2018 – Jan 2019
We held 20 individual in-depth stakeholder interviews with people who held a professional connection with us or who held a civic/public position in Bristol.
Aug – Sep 2018
We emailed audience members with an initial audience survey with 1,203 responses.
We held an audience forum with 40 participants who were a mixture of existing audience members and those who had not attended the venue before.
Nov 2018 – Feb 2019
We circulated an online public survey with 1,296 responses
We held community consultation days in Redland, St Pauls, Easton, Southmead and Knowle West with over 200 people attending.
Mar – Oct 2019
We held two Discovery Days at the Hall where the public could find out more about all aspects of our transformation, with approximately 1,000 people attending
We held school workshops at Bristol Free School and St Mary Redcliffe & Temple Secondary School attended by 30 students
What made you decide to change the name?
We know that our former name, that of the slave trader Edward Colston, meant that not everyone has felt welcome or that they belong in their city’s concert hall. And if we couldn’t share the joy of live music with everyone, something had to change.
Our organisation was founded long after Colston’s death, and has no direct connection to him, financial or otherwise. We can no longer be a monument to someone who played such a prominent role in the slave trade.
Since the start of our transformation campaign, which we launched in September 2014, we’ve stated that we would be reviewing the name as part of our redevelopment. We made the announcement in April 2017, well before the transformation began in June 2018, to make our intentions clear. We changed our name on 23 September 2020.
Is Bristol Beacon trying to erase or censure the city’s past?
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 learning from the past and 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 the history.
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 the name Colston, and its connections to the transatlantic slave trade, do not represent the values of Bristol Music Trust.
Who was Edward Colston?
Edward Colston was a merchant and slave trader who is widely 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.
Was the venue built with Edward Colston’s money?
No. The venue 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.