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Chief Executive Louise Mitchell sets out vision for the future

Two women stand next to a lectern with the words

On Thursday 30 September, our Chief Executive Louise Mitchell set out the next steps for Bristol Beacon at a reception for supporters, partners and friends. 

Almost exactly one year ago today, I stood on this stage alongside Bristol’s Mayor, Marvin Rees, as we announced the new name of our venue, Bristol Beacon.

That announcement followed three years of consultation with our partners, audiences, and communities across Bristol.

Today, I’m delighted we can reveal a fresh new look and set out a bold new vision for our organisation.

As for so many arts organisations around the country, the last 18 months have been challenging. Of course, financially, but also because bringing the joy of music to live audiences is our lifeblood, our purpose.

In the last year we have found new ways to continue to do that: whether that’s online events, socially distanced gigs, virtual music lessons or even doorstep performances.

The transformation of our building into a world-class music venue has continued to progress, overcoming many unexpected and unforeseen challenges.

But the true potential of the transformation of this much-loved venue, goes far beyond bricks and mortar or even a name.


Alongside our ongoing city-wide programme of live concerts, our charity operates the city’s award-winning music education hub Bristol Plays Music – which is responsible for music education in every school in Bristol and our music centres, inspiring over 30,000 young people through music every year.

Our growing community programme works across the city to ensure music is at the heart of life no matter your background or circumstance, and our talent development initiative Multi-Track, has supported numerous cohorts of emerging artists into the industry.

From today for the first time, we are uniting all our work under one banner as Bristol Beacon. Bristol Music Trust and Bristol Plays Music will merge fully with Bristol Beacon, so as one charity, one organisation, we can be a model for the future, committed to supporting people, whoever you are, on a lifelong musical journey – from school to stage and beyond.

We believe the opportunity we have is unique in the UK.

By working in collaboration with schools, with communities, in care homes, with our city’s brilliant venues, even on the city’s streets, the creative work of Bristol Beacon can play a vital part in Bristol’s recovery from the pandemic and future status as a leading cultural city with music at its heart.

So today, as a newly unified organisation, we set out on a reinvigorated mission to help more of us Make Space for Music.

We want to live up to the promise of our name and truly be a beacon for music in the city, helping to create the space and provide the opportunities for people to enjoy enriching musical lives, whoever you are and wherever you’re from.

We want to help make space for music in our schools, in our communities, across the city, for everyone.

This work is already happening.

Today and tomorrow Bristol Beacon music tutors and staff will be out delivering top quality music education.

Our FLOW and Hope Creative programmes, to name just two, work with young people with additional needs and children in care to enrich lives through music.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we collaborated with our artistic partners Paraorchestra, community partners Filwood Centre and local residents to stage SMOOSH! – a unique musical street parade that brought music, dance and sheer joy to Knowle West.

We are partnering with the London Symphony Orchestra next week to live stream our concert from Bath Forum for free to care homes across the country to say thank you to staff and residents for everything they have done and endured over this past year.

And we have been working hand in hand with young and diverse local creative artists at Bristol-based collective, Rising Arts Agency, to conceive this campaign and bring it to life along with our fresh new look.

All of this is part of the DNA of Bristol Beacon.

It’s just a taste of what can be achieved when we work together to make space for music.

With the transformation of our venue, the potential is massive. We are excited and grateful to have the opportunity to build this vision of a city that makes space for music together, with our partners, with everyone, with you.

Make space to connect, play, shine!

Make space to connect, play, shine!

So what’s next?

We need to finish the once-in-a-generation transformation of this exceptional and accessible space for music that the whole of Bristol can be proud of.

We need to work hard to keep our inclusive and diverse music education and community programmes thriving across the city – Bristol is a city that values music and we want to help safeguard that.

And we need to work hard to support our industry to recover, keep live music alive, so that we can look ahead to the future with purpose and excitement at the prospect of more music and more joyful moments.

We are committed to this vision.

And our commitment means we are setting ourselves the goal to raise a further £8 million over the next three years to ensure we can do this for the city and realise the full potential of our transformation.

To close, I’d like to share a film of just one of the ways Bristol Beacon is committed to helping everyone Make Space for Music. This film captures the work we do through our HOPE Creative programme with young people in care.

Thank you.

Find out more about Make Space for Music