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Colston Hall shrugs off delays and aims for sustainability

22 October 2019

THE MANAGEMENT of Bristol’s Hall says it will be the UK’s first sustainable venue when it reopens after extensive refurbishment.

Previously 1,932 capacity, the hall is undergoing a £50 million overhaul to create a main performance space welcoming audiences of 2,100 when it reopens in 2021, at least a year later than the original reopening date of summer 2020.

The delay is blamed on the delicate structure of the 152-year-old Victorian building.

In June the hall revealed it faced a cost overrun caused by inflationary pressures, but that it hoped an anticipated £3.4m award from West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund would cover this.

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust, which runs the hall, says the sustainability initiative, “Came from our staff’s concern about climate change. With 200 building professionals on site, everything they do has an impact on the environment and it’s time to start doing something about it.”

Taking advice from Australia’s Sydney Opera House (cap. 2,679), now certified as carbon neutral, the hall plans enough photovoltaic panels to generate 260kw of energy, saving 11 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“We’ve examined everything we do: building systems, waste disposal, energy use,” says Mitchell. “It’s a long journey and we hope we’ll do it by 2030.”

Meanwhile, LIVE UK has learnt there are no plans to consider a commercial naming rights deal to replace its somewhat controversial name, associated with the 17th century Bristol slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston.

“We will make an announcement next year,” says Mitchell. “As we listen to communities across Bristol it doesn’t feel right to give our name to another institution. But people can endow bits of the building and have their name attached to its heritage, as we still have £4.5m to raise.”

She insists the name Colston will not be expunged from the building. “Some people have grown up at the Colston Hall, heard great music, or sang here as a child. Of course we respect that.”

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