A U.K. Music Venue Has Agreed To Drop “Toxic” Slave Trader’s Name Following Protests

Colston Hall in Bristol, England will reopen under a new name in 2020.

April 26, 2017

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Colston Hall, the largest live music venue in Bristol, England, is to change the name it shares with a 17th century slave trader. The venue is named after Edward Colston, a Bristol MP and merchant whose wealth largely came from a business trading in slaves, cloth, wine, and sugar.

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The 2000 capacity venue has attracted criticism for many years with local act Massive Attack boycotting the venue two decades ago. A petition launched in February urging the venue owners to change attracted thousands of signatures.

In a statement released today, April 26, Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust charity that runs Colston Hall, described the links to Colston as "toxic" and said the name change was "the right thing to do." Mitchell added that a new name will be decided prior to discussions with potential sponsors but that: "It's not actually about commerce, it's about doing the right thing."

A statement on the venue’s website, meanwhile, states: “The name Colston, and its associations with the slave trade, does not reflect our values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organization.”

However, the name change will not come into effect in 2020. The venue is due to close for a £50m refurbishment in 2019 and will reopen the following year under its new name.

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A U.K. Music Venue Has Agreed To Drop “Toxic” Slave Trader’s Name Following Protests