Colston Hall is the largest concert hall in the South West and Bristol’s home of music. Run by the charity, Bristol Music Trust, our audience has been enjoying music here since 1867 and the building remains at the heart of cultural life in the city and wider region. Now we’re breathing new life into the historic building through a large capital programme, creating a space to listen to and create music for the next 150 years.
Over the last 152 years, our story has been bound up with the story of music itself: the seismic shifts in sounds and styles that have defined modern culture have played out – in spectacular fashion – on our stage. From impressive choirs and orchestras to grandees of the swing age; from the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll to the great family tree of genres they inspired.
Some of the world’s biggest music stars have performed on our stage, including The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong, Motorhead and Bob Dylan. Our imposing and iconic foyer has made Colston Hall an architecturally significant and striking addition to Bristol’s skyline and adds a modern twist to the distinctive Bristol Byzantine façade of the original hall.
Between 2018 and 2021 the Hall is completing the largest capital redevelopment ever to take place in the South West arts sector. Backed by Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, HM Treasury, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership amongst many others, the transformation of the Hall is recognised as being vital to supporting the cultural future of Bristol and the region.
Our £48.8 million redevelopment will:
• BUILD an exceptional classical and contemporary music venue for Bristol • CREATE world-class spaces for education and enterprise
• BREATHE new life into wonderful Victorian buildings by opening up and restoring the unique Bristol Byzantine colonnades and 150-year-old historic façade
• PROVIDE greater comfort for audiences and artists with new seating and air-conditioning
• IMPROVE backstage facilities for artists
• REVITALISE The Lantern venue, creating a beautiful and flexible space for use as both a performance venue and conference facility
• OPEN up our incredible Victorian cellars to create a third performance space
• CREATE a new education centre in our historic cellars to provide a new home for education programmes which will engage thousands of young people every year.
Alongside this dramatic transformation, Bristol Music Trust has committed publicly to renaming the venue – ending the 150-year association with slave-trader and merchant Edward Colston. This bold move was hailed in an article published in The Guardian as “probably the first significant change in the UK,” by Nicholas Draper, director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership at UCL. The move is inspiring the Trust to connect more widely across the city and place inclusion at the heart of the Hall’s work.
While historic perceptions of celebrating the transatlantic slave trade are being turned around, the transformation of the building will also ensure that it is one of the most accessible in Europe for disabled artists and audiences, while also providing a base for the city’s award-winning music hub – educating thousands of children across the city every year.
To truly deliver on the promise of this once in a generation project, the Hall’s vision for the future is one which brings a diverse programme of incredible artists from around the world to Bristol, nurtures new home-grown talent, brings people together through music performance and opportunities for life-long learning, creates everlasting memories and opens our doors to everyone – transforming not just the building, but the role of the concert hall in the life of the city.