Bristol’s Colston Hall becomes Bristol Beacon in long-awaited rebrand

  • Watch Max Walsh's report

Bristol’s Colston Hall has changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

The long-awaited rebrand of the music venue was unveiled at a ceremony on Wednesday 23 September.

It comes three years after Bristol Music Trust, who run the venue, first set out their intention to change its name.

A public consultation followed - with more than 4,000 people participating.

The venue in the city centre was built almost 150 years after the controversial slave trader's death and the announcement of the new name is part of a £49 million refurbishment.

Louise Mitchell called the new name a symbol of hope. Credit: Bristol Music Trust

The Trust says it hopes the moment serves as a fresh start for the organisation and its place in the city, with a focus on music performance and education.

Writing on its website, the Trust stated: “We believe in the power of music to break down barriers and cross boundaries. Bristol Beacon will celebrate this in everything we do.

“You’ve told us that you want us to inspire more people through music.

"With this change, and the coming transformation of our building, we can do that together.

"Today marks the start of a new chapter as Bristol Beacon.”

The venue removed its previous name from the outside of the music venue in June. Credit: Bristol Music Trust

The new name was revealed at an event in the venue's foyer without a live audience due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Bristol's city poet Vanessa Kisuule had written a poem to mark the occasion - captured in a short film - and the Bristol Beacon name was revealed for the first time in the last line of the poem.

Speeches were also made by Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust, and Bristol mayor Marvin Rees.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Bristol City Council’s Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Finance, Governance and Performance said: “I welcome the new name as something that will help the venue reach out and connect with the whole city. 

"The connection with community, contending with our history and looking ahead resonate with our ambitions for the venue’s inclusive future as a world class arts and cultural venue to represent Bristol."

“For now, we look ahead to how this can become a place fully connected to its city communities, where everyone feels welcome and can enjoy coming to experience what Bristol has to offer.”

Colston Hall was founded 150 years after Colston's death, with no financial investment or direct link to the slave trader.

Some bands, including Massive Attack, previously refused to play at the venue due to its name.

The name change takes place immediately and in the coming months the new logo will be installed on the outside of the building.

The historic occasion is also being marked with a visual light experience projected on to the building.

As part of the announcement, Bristol Music Trust has released the Bristol Beacon ‘Transformation Promise’ – a newly developed manifesto for change outlining the organisation commitment to improving the diversity of their audiences, programme and workforce.

Part of this work will be enabled by a ground-breaking project in partnership with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, who are investing £400,000 into a major programme of community-led activity centred around the reopening of the venue.

In a statement issued earlier this year, Bristol Music Trust said its previous name was not reflective of a “progressive, forward-thinking, open arts organisation”.

They said the new name will be “right for both the venue and the city.”

Read more: