As Bristol protesters topple slave trader statue, Colston Hall is working to change venue name

The music venue wants a new name because its current one "acts as a symbol of division".

Bristol music venue Colston Hall, which is named after a slave trader, says it’s working on changing its name because it “acts as a symbol of division”.

It comes as protests continue to take place across the US and around the world after George Floyd, an African-American man, was killed in Minneapolis when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine-minutes and ignored the man’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

Today (June 7), protesters in Bristol used ropes to pull down the bronze statue of Edward Colston, a prominent 17th Century slave trader, who has been a controversial figure in the city for many years.

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Colston was a member of the Royal African Company, which transported thousands of men, women and children from Africa to the Americas. When he died in 1721, he left his wealth to various charities and his legacy can still be seen on Bristol’s streets, memorials and buildings.

The statue was later dragged through the streets of Bristol and thrown into the harbour.

Colston Hall, which has played host to the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and more, put out a statement last week saying that it supports the Black Lives Matter movement, and that it wants to change the current name of the venue – one that will “reflect the unity and joy that experiencing live music together brings.”

“We believe that we can’t be neutral on issues of racism. Our organisation is committed to challenging our ways of working to identify and eradicate inequality and it wouldn’t be write to stay silent,” the venue said.

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“Black culture and musicians are part of the rich and diverse musical heritage of Colston Hall and of music universally. We are acting to ensure that these voices are amplified.”

They continued: “We are invested in this issue because the current name of Colston Hall acts as a symbol of division. Alongside our work supporting Bristol’s black communities and musicians, we are currently working on a new name that will reflect the unity and joy that experiencing live music together brings.” Read the full statement above.

Located on Bristol’s Colston Street, Colston Hall first opened as a concert venue in 1867. Becoming a popular rock concert venue in the 1960s, it has seen a plethora of high-profile acts grace its stage.

The Beatles performed at the hall on in both 1963 and 1964, while Jimi Hendrix visited the venue twice in 1967. Other names to play there include The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, The Who and Lou Reed.

Colston Hall is one of the grassroots venues included in Music Venue Trust’s (MVT) recently launched ‘Save Our Venues’ campaign, which is an initiative designed to help fend off the continued economic threat to over 500 grassroots music venues throughout the UK during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

If you would like to help raise money for the venue, which is currently undergoing renovations, you can donate via Colston Hall’s ‘Save Our Venues’ Crowdfunder.

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