Dedicated to the Business of Contemporary Live Music

Colston name removed in wake of protests

17 June 2020

THE EXTERNAL signage of Bristol’s 1,932-capacity Colston Hall has been removed following two weeks of protest and counter-protest around the Black Lives Matter campaign, including the toppling of a statue of slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston a few hundred yards from the venue’s front entrance.

The hall, closed until late 2021 for a £48.5 million refurbishment, increasing its capacity to 2,300, announced it was to change its name three years ago and has since undertaken a consultation involving 4,000 people and several events, with a replacement promised this autumn.

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the hall operator Bristol Music Trust (BMT), told LIVE UK before the removal of the signage, that “Colston has long been a divisive issue in the city. The Black Lives Matter movement and the removal of the statue have helped increase support and understanding of our decision [to change the name].

“It’s been important that we take time to listen to Bristol communities’ views on the name and their vision for the hall. The extension of the transformation timetable [see LIVE UK Issue. 237] and now Covid-19 have delayed the name change process.”

In a public statement, she describes the sign removal as “symbolic”, adding that the hall was built 150 years after Colston’s death, with no contribution from his money and “We cannot continue to be a monument to his memory.”

Artistes who’ve appeared there in its 153-year history include Rachmaninov, The Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Dylan 10cc and Bon Iver.

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