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How one person’s legacy gift to three Bristol organisations is helping to give more people access to art and culture

A singer and guitarist performing to a crowd

When you purchase a ticket to a gig, a theatre show, or an event at a cultural organisation, do you consider it a philanthropic gift to charity?

The reality is the majority of cultural organisations are charities. Every penny you spend in one of Bristol’s excellent charitable art organisations goes far beyond the event you’re experiencing. Revenue from ticket sales goes towards that organisation’s charitable aims, helping people from across the city to enjoy arts and culture in numerous ways.

For some people, after a lifetime of wonderful cultural experiences, they choose to support our important and vital industry in the form of a legacy gift in their will. This month Elvira Pearson generously did just that, in a major way, by donating to Bristol Beacon, Bristol Old Vic and St George’s Bristol.


Who is Elvira Pearson and how has she helped Bristol’s arts organisations?

Elvira was a local woman who experienced a long life enjoying arts and culture. At the time of her passing earlier this year she was in her 90s and living in St Monica’s retirement village.

Bristol Beacon, Bristol Old Vic and St George’s Bristol will all benefit from the generous donation from Elvira Pearson who has left substantial gifts in her will to the three organisations from her £3m estate.

This is the first time such a gift has been made across these arts organisations from a legacy donation.

After the challenges faced by many cultural organisations over the course of the pandemic, extraordinary generosity from legacies such as Elvira’s are a much-needed lifeline of support.


“Bristol Beacon is a venue that holds 150 years of memories for many Bristolians. Leaving a gift in their will is a way of creating a personal legacy that can be celebrated in their lifetime.”

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Beacon

How are these significant gifts being acknowledged?

Generous legacy gifts such as this are rare. In recognition of her significant gift, Bristol Beacon, Bristol Old Vic and St George’s Bristol all intend to acknowledge Elvira and her contribution in their own way and ensure that their benefactor is remembered.

At Bristol Beacon, we are delighted to be naming a seat in our new auditorium in perpetuity in Elvira’s name.

Up the hill from us at St George’s Bristol, they will be naming a concert in her memory. Samir Savant, Chief Executive, says: “The arts in Bristol were clearly important to Elvira in her lifetime, so it will be a great pleasure to dedicate a performance to her memory in our beautiful concert hall. This will be part of our popular lunchtime series, which promotes the very best emerging talent in classical music today, working with partners such as BBC Radio 3.


We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who chooses to leave a gift in their will, no matter how large or small.”

Samir Savant, Chief Executive of St George’s Bristol

Theatre as well as music was clearly a large part of Elvira’s life. Down the road on King Street at Bristol Old Vic they will also be naming a seat in Elvira’s name in their beautifully refurbished theatre.

The naming of a seat is a special way to celebrate this gift, as Elvira takes her place alongside many greats of the theatre world. Charlotte Geeves, executive director of Bristol Old Vic, says: “We are delighted that Elvira chose to remember Bristol Old Vic alongside our illustrious peers within the city and will recognise her gift by naming a seat in her honour.

“Over our 256-year history we’ve enjoyed the generous support of so many people, in many different ways. Legacy gifts, large and small, have helped continue to inspire communities across the city through our engagement work, and supported productions and programmes that touch people’s lives in so many ways.”

Where do donations like Elvira’s go?

A legacy donation like this will go towards that organisation’s charitable aims. For Bristol Beacon donations help us to:

  • create a city-wide programme of live music,
  • deliver creative learning opportunities,
  • give communities enriching musical experiences,
  • and help the people of Bristol to share the joy of live music.


Find out more

How can I leave a legacy gift?

Do you love arts and culture and want to make a generous donation like Elvira Pearson’s? Bristol Beacon, along with St George’s Bristol and Bristol Old Vic, all offer legacy gift services.

At Bristol Beacon we offer a free will writing service where you can include a legacy gift.

Leave us a gift in your will


Find out more about leaving a legacy gift to St George’s Bristol

Find out more about leaving a legacy gift to Bristol Old Vic

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