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A first look at Bristol Beacon

With just one week to go until we officially open the doors to Bristol Beacon on Thursday 30 November, following the five-year, once-in-a-generation transformation, we were delighted to welcome our key charity funders, partners and supporters inside for a special preview event.

As one of the first events to take place in the transformed venue, and the first opportunity to see the beautiful new spaces with music performed in them, the evening marked a final milestone as the transformation project draws to a close, with just final finishing touches left to be made over the next few days, and a team of up to 250 on site each day working at speed to complete it.

Historic Lantern Foyer, full of people with glass skylight overhead
Photography by Chris Cooper/ ShotAway

The transformation has only been made possible by an extraordinary range of funders and supporters. At the event Bristol Beacon Chief Executive Louise Mitchell thanked them for their visionary support.

Principal transformation partners Bristol City Council, Arts Council England, HM Treasury, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the West of England Combined Authority have provided the vital funding that underpins the project, with Principal transformation supporters Bristol Water, Burges Salmon, Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Jack and Monica Britton Trust, St James Place, John James Bristol Foundation, Nisbet Trust, Quartet Community Foundation and The Wolfson Foundation also playing a major role.

Transformation supporters including businesses and individual donors were also welcomed to the event, with special thanks made on the night to the over 9,000 individuals who have made one-off donations to the transformation project, including 450 people who have named seats in Beacon Hall with contributions of £5 per month, right up to a generous £1 million gift.

We are finally gathered in what can fairly and honestly be described as a flagship international music venue. It’s a nationally significant moment. This project is immediately destined to be defined as one of the great cultural icons in modern Britain.

Phil Gibby, Area Director South West, Arts Council England


This building is our engine. It is our home. Bristol’s stage for everyone. There are so many people to thank – to everyone who has supported this project, we are grateful for your belief in the power of music and that Bristol deserves to have a world-class facility.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive,
Bristol Beacon


Louise Mitchell, CEO, speaking at Lectern
Photography by Chris Cooper/ ShotAway
Phil Gibby, Louise Mitchell and Mayor Marvin Rees
(l to r) Phil Gibby, Arts Council England, Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive Bristol Beacon, Mayor Marvin Rees. Photo by @JonCraig_Photos

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Delivering a world class music and arts venue for Bristol signifies a major investment in our city’s artistic reputation and its cultural roots. The generosity of funders and donors, alongside our city’s major investment, has brought to life one of the finest music venues in Europe and an inclusive centre for community learning and education. It is thanks to the city’s significant investment that Bristol Beacon will create hundreds of jobs for residents and has the potential to generate £253.7 million to Bristol’s economy . To those who have contributed to this project in all shapes and forms, I thank you, and look forward to the Bristol Beacon thriving for many years to come as part of Bristol’s strong and diverse cultural sector.

“I was proud to unveil the plaque that marks the re-opening of Bristol Beacon after five years of hard work.”


Bristol Beacon is not a two, three, or even five-year project. It is a 100-year legacy for Bristol; from the main stage to the cellars’ recording studio, it is a venue designed by the people of Bristol, for the future of Bristol.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol


Wide shot of Beacon Hall full of people with piano on stage
Photography by Chris Cooper/ ShotAway
Artist performing in lantern Hall to room full of people
Photography by Chris Cooper/ ShotAway

Stuart McLeod, Director of England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re so proud to have been a part of making history with this transformational, once-in-a-lifetime project. Bristol Beacon is a shining example of heritage restoration, highlighting the rich musical legacy of Bristol and the wider South West region. Supported with money raised by National Lottery players, the project has resulted in beautiful and inspiring spaces that are inclusive and welcoming for the entire community as well as a wider education programme of activities to benefit the people of Bristol.”

Richard Ennis, Interim Chief Executive of the West of England Combined Authority, said: “”The economic and social benefits of this project are truly far-reaching and will be felt by many living and working in the region. The West of England Combined Authority is proud to have contributed to a project that invests in the economic growth of the area and will deliver for the community for years to come.”

Andrew and Anne Nisbet, The Nisbet Trust, said: “The Nisbet Trust is proud to invest in this important musical institution. We decided to support the project due to the huge social value of the charity’s work and as a gift to the city’s music scene. It has been inspiring to see the spaces once again come alive with music, and we are so excited to share it with the people of Bristol.”

The completed art commissions were revealed for the first time during the evening, with the artists invited alongside guests to see the completed work for the first time. As part of the transformation of the venue and a requirement in the planning conditions, local and nationally renowned artists were commissioned by Bristol City Council and curated by Theresa Bergne from Field Art Projects to add to the richness of the transformative works taking place in the building. Alongside this programme, curator and artist Cathy Mager has been leading on The National Lottery Heritage Fund supported to tell the rich social history and heritage of the venue.

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