A great success for the campaign came in April 2017, when trustees announced their unanimous decision to change the name of Colston Hall. Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust, told the press that the decision was an affirmation of the music venues’ values of equality, diversity, and inclusivity.
“We really don’t feel that the association with Edward Colston however tenuous, is something we want. The name ‘Colston’ does not reflect the trust’s values as a progress, forward-thinking and open arts organisation. We want to look to the future and ensure the whole city is proud of its transformed concert hall and so, when we reopen the new building in 2020, it will be with a new name.”
The hall has not yet announced its new name, and has stated that it might be named after a commercial partner, but that it will ‘be consulting with audiences and other stake holders during the closure period before announcing a new name in 2020’.
For decades, Bristolians have campaigned to change the name of Colston Hall. Edward Colston’s crimes are well known, and many people believe that it is wrong that he should be honoured by having a prestigious cultural venue named after him. In our own campaign for a name change, we ran a petition, organized a series of awareness-raising events, led informative public walks, promoted the Colston Hall consultation, lobbied the board, worked with the media. We argued that:
1) The name of the hall should be changed so that it no longer honours Edward Colston.
2) The refurbished and renamed hall should permanently incorporate a historical display acknowledging Edward Colston’s crimes against humanity, and more generally, the history and legacies of slavery and abolition.
3) There should be an ongoing programme of events established at the hall to address this subject.
On 7th February 2017, outside the first event of Colston Hall’s 150th Anniversary year, supporters of a name change held a demonstration and handed out leaflets.