Bristol Music Trust, the registered charity that runs Colston Hall, has launched a new public giving campaign to support the transformation of the venue – offering individuals the chance to help secure the next 150 years of the Hall by naming a seat for as little as £5 per month.

In order to fund the transformation, the team at Colston Hall have already secured £40.9million (including £10million from Bristol City Council, £5million from HM Treasury, £10million from Arts Council England, £4.75million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £5million from the Local Enterprise Partnership and generous support from local donors, trusts and foundations) against a target of £48.8million, which will be the biggest ever redevelopment to take place in Bristol’s arts sector.

The transformation will result in one of the best arts and learning facilities in the country and includes a remodelling and upgrading of the Main Hall and The Lantern, opening up the extensive cellars for the first time in 150 years – creating a new intimate performance space and a state-of-the-art education suite – and refurbishing the historic fabric of the building.

The public appeal offers the chance to make a one-off donation or name a seat by making a monthly donation. Donors will receive a plaque on their chosen seat, which can be engraved with the dedication of their choice, and a specially commissioned certificate.

A range of seats are available to name for £5, £10, £20, £50 or £100 per month. For higher level donations, the additional benefits include backstage tours, VIP invitations to the transformed Hall’s opening party, Hall membership for two years, invitations to exclusive events and access to the ‘Supporters Lounge’ when the new Hall opens in 2020.

“This year, as we’ve celebrated our 150th anniversary, we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of personal stories and memories we’ve received, highlighting the significance the Hall has played in so many people’s lives,” said Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust.

“Now, we’re asking the public to seize this moment to help secure another 150 years of special memories and experiences for their friends, families and future generations. We’re inviting people to name a seat and be a part of this transformational moment in the venue’s history.

“The Hall hasn’t been updated since it opened in the 1950s so it’s long overdue a transformational refurbishment that will give Bristol and the South West a world-class venue to be proud of.”

The first phase of the transformation involved the construction of the £20million foyer space, which opened in 2009. The rest of the building has not been refurbished for 60 years, making it the only major concert hall in the UK not to have been redeveloped in recent times.

The transformation programme includes:

  • Transforming the Main Hall and increasing standing capacity by 15 per cent, with major changes to the stage and equipping it with international standards of acoustics and comfort, including new air conditioning and flexible seating for disabled people
  • Transforming The Lantern into an elegant and versatile performance venue with the stunning historic plasterwork sensitively restored
  • Creating a programme of over 650 live events each year from 2020, increasing ticket sales by 35 per cent.
  • Creating 49 additional jobs by 2020-2021
  • Opening up the historic cellars for the first time in 100 years to create a cabaret style performance area and education suites for lifelong learning
  • Education suites will include new classrooms and a technology lab, providing an inspiring base to educate 30,000 children every year and increasing music making sessions by 75 per cent.
  • Restoring the historic foyer and reinstating the decorative Colston Street frontage
  • Breathing new life into Colston Street’s public realm by opening up the Byzantine colonnades and restoring the building’s 150 year old historic façade
  • Exceeding national accessibility requirements for disabled people and creating an Attitude is Everything GOLD standard accessible building for performers and audiences alike from 2020, as well as establishing the National Centre for Inclusive Excellence

The transformation is being overseen by architects Levitt Bernstein. “We were impressed by the public’s enthusiasm for the transformation project and listened carefully to consultation feedback, which has now been incorporated to the benefit of the design,” said Mark Lewis, associate director. “As a result, the new hall will be more accessible and comfortable, and the Victorian parts even more beautifully restored.”

Further information on the transformation of the Hall can be found online at www.colstonhall.org/transformation or by following #TransformtheHall on social media channels.