Bristol’s Colston Hall pledges to change its name after slave trader statue pulled down

The music venue's name "does not reflect our values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation"


Words by: Felicity Martin

Colston Hall, Bristol’s largest music venue, has said it will be changing its name to shake off its historical association with slavery.

As part of the Black Lives Matter protests across the UK over the weekend, the city’s controversial bronze statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the harbour.

“The current name does not reflect our values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation – we want it to be representative of the city, a beacon of its values of hope, diversity and inclusion,” the venue said in a statement.

“We believe that we can’t be neutral on issues of racism. Our organisation is committed to challenging our ways of working to identify and eradicate inequality and it wouldn’t be write to stay silent,” it added.

Three years ago the venue announced it would be changing its name as part of a refurbishment, but Covid-19 pushed back those plans, with Colston Hall now anticipating that the new name will be unveiled in Autumn 2020.

UPDATE (23/09/20): Following a public consultation, Colston Hall’s name will be changed to the Bristol Beacon.

The new name was determined after talks with city mayor Marvin Rees, creative organisations and the Bristol Music Trust, the charitable organisation responsible for running the hall.

The Trust’s Chief Executive said she wanted the name to reflect a new start for the venue as a focal point for music in the city, and the Bristol Beacon would be a ‘symbol of hope and community, a focal point for music in the city, a gathering space, illuminating the way ahead.

She added: “A place of welcome, warmth and light. We’re giving an open invitation to the city for everyone to come and share in the joy of live music.”

If you are looking for ways to help the Black Lives Matter cause, head here for petitions to sign, organisations to donate to and reading materials. Also consider purchasing music from this list of black artists and non-black artists donating sales money to relevant causes.

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