One of the most controversial projects in the country is reaching its conclusion with the announcement of the new name for Colston Hall in Bristol. The name was developed in a process led by the branding agency, Saboteur. The rebrand has been demanded by Bristol music and arts lovers for many years – dating back long before recent events in the city that threw the controversial Colston name back into the spotlight.
The rebranded venue will now be known as Bristol Beacon. The name was chosen because it describes a focal point, a gathering place and a source of inspiration – a place that will be visible beyond the boundaries of the city – which everyone involved in the project felt encapsulated what this venue means for the city, and set music free.
Images of Bristol flashed all around the world on June 7th when protesters pulled down the statue of the local slave-trader Edward Colston, rolled it through the streets and dumped it in the harbour. The event was applauded all over the world, especially in America’s deep south, where controversy is heated about public statues of Confederate heroes. Rev Jesse Jackson, who visited the city in 2007, said “Today, Bristol led the world”.
Branding agency Saboteur worked with the community to develop the new name. Local schools and creative organisations took part along with the strategic research consultancy, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM), and the Bristol Music Trust (BMT). Bristol’s Mayor, Marvin Rees, took a personal interest in the project.
Andy Boreham, Head of Marketing at Bristol Music Trust, said: “The more I see ‘set music free’, the more I like it and the more it makes me think that is exactly what this process is doing for us.”
The venue has hosted music legends including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, but this will be its most radical transformation in its 150-year history.
In addition to the big stars and bands, Bristol Beacon hosts a diverse variety of events and education workshops and it was felt that the new name would better represent the content of the shows and performances it puts on for the multicultural audience in Bristol.
Nick Eagleton of Saboteur says –
“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This project is about much more than renaming a venue – the conversations around it have been about the identity of the city itself. We had to set this great venue free. Free from the murky clouds of a name with a dark history. Free from the assumption that this was exclusively for the white, middle-aged, middle class. And we had to allow it to be free to soar like music itself. Free to challenge, provoke and seduce. Free to be the place where everyone in the city could find something that they loved.
“We had to plunge into the heart and soul of Bristol and we did that with a huge collaborative group that spanned the whole community, from schoolchildren to the Mayor himself. It was a joy, because Bristolians don’t hold back – if they’ve got something to say, they say it. This was a great, inspiring project. What wonderful, uplifting people to work with. And what a start for our new branding studio. We feel as if we landed a part in a great blockbuster show. How often do you get the chance to make history? And how often do you make new friends for life?”
The ongoing development of Bristol Beacon’s new brand identity will be completed towards the end of the year, as Saboteur continues to work with the creative community in the city.