BRISTOL’S RICH ARTS CULTURE: NO AUSTERITY FOR COLSTON HALL’S MARIE ANTOINETTE

Not content with scooping £20 million of public money for the ‘Crashlanded Flying Saucer’ foyer refurbishment a few years back, Bristol’s leading arts-venue-named-after-a-slave-trader COLSTON HALL now has its hand out for a slice of that sweet tasting £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund pie.

Chief Executive of the Bristol Music Trust – which took over the running of Colston Hall from the council in 2011 – LOUISE ‘MARIE ANTOINETTE’ MITCHELL reckons she deserves £30 million from the RGF to tart up the Hall because:

Bristol is the wealthiest city outside London and we should have a cultural and arts scene that reflects that.

It’s pretty plain to see that she does not see Colston Hall as a place for ordinary Bristolians, but a playground for the rich to rattle their jewellery at touring jesters and minstrels. Obviously in Mitchell’s world wealthy people are hard done by and so need a bigger and shinier pleasure palace in which to doss about flaunting their cultural superiority – paid for by the rest of us, of course.

It’s not just the public purse she’s chasing for cash, though. She’s also brought in a new sponsorship programme, presumably so companies can get their branding onto the Hall’s toilet paper or speaker cables or something. First to take up her offer is filthy rich wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin, which again says something about who Marie Antoinette thinks deserves to be in Colston Hall.

Of course, chucking money at bricks and mortar doesn’t create more culture. And anyway, shouldn’t our cultural centres reflect all Bristol, offering access to all – not as an afterthought or a quaint bleeding-heart piece about ‘their struggle’ – like so many smaller, financially poorer venues across the city do?

Not if Mitchell has her way. But then this is a person who barely conceals her contempt that many associate her Hall with slave trader Edward Colston:

I do find it frustrating and there is a lot of misunderstanding about the building. People think it was paid for with money made from the slave trade which is not true. It was called Colston Hall because it was built on Colston Street.

Thanks for correcting us poor uneducated types without your six years’-worth of university and more than thirty years in arts management, Louise.

But, errr, why exactly do you think Colston Street is so named…?

12 thoughts on “BRISTOL’S RICH ARTS CULTURE: NO AUSTERITY FOR COLSTON HALL’S MARIE ANTOINETTE

  1. Horfield Harry

    But during the mayoral campaign Marvin Rees was asked if he wanted to change the name of the Colston Hall and replied that he was “relaxed about it”. Malcolm X was apparently guilty of robbery, pimping, black supremacy and advocating violence so shall we look at renaming the Malcolm X Centre?

    Reply
    1. Concerned

      Marvin Ress was probably worried about the Evil Post ridiculing him and Labour if he said otherwise. Malcolm X reformed himself and his previous misdemeanors are nothing compared to racial genocide. Your shit stirring passive racism is worrying.

      Reply
  2. Horfield Harry

    Africa was complicit in the trade on its own soil, but there are few records and no statues of the African slave traders. That’s one consequence of being an undeveloped nation, there’s very little record kept of any wrongdoing. However we did keep parish records of white people stolen from the south west coast of England and southern Ireland by pirates from North Africa. We ended our involvement in slavery a long time ago but racial genocide still happens in Africa, such as in Rwanda.

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    1. harry

      I don’t understand how anything you say justifies naming anything after a large scale slave trader who made his millions from slavery. It is repugnant to celebrate and glorify such a person.

      Agreed we should not re-name the place after another person who has committed heinous crimes but no one is arguing we should.

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      1. dodger

        What amazes me is how people will defend a rich bastard like Colston and the slave trade, when it was Bristol sailors and abolitionists who blew the whistle on the trade (go down the Seven Stars on Thomas Lane and read the excellent plaque). Colston and scum like him not only helped enslave (and murder) hundreds of thousands of African men, women and children but also pressed and brutalised Bristol sailors. In one year (1787) 50% of the Bristol sailors never came back. Colston and his Clifton comrades made a fortune out of exploiting Africans and Bristolians and then moved onto the hill with their ‘treasure’. Its about time we remembered all those that suffered under the tyranny of Colston.

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  3. Horfield Harry

    It’s ridiculous to judge somebody who lived 300 years ago by the standards of today. It was a cruel world back then and the merchants were only doing what others were doing the world over. Their crime was to do it more successfully. Every city and every country probably owes its historical wealth to exploitation of some kind.
    How do you know the beneficiaries of any slaving ship that embarked from Bristol lived only in Clifton, and not in other districts of the city or Bath, Cheltenham, Taunton, Exeter or London? I suspect you are just projecting your resentment of the current affluence of people who live in Clifton onto history.
    Just because a port is the point of embarcation for ships does not mean the responsibility lies with the port. Bristol has nothing to be ashamed of, or at least nothing that Britain and the many other nations implicated in slavery shouldn’t also be ashamed of.

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    1. harry

      Why are you spinning for slave owners ?

      It is not true to say that slavery was not considered evil at the time. Slavery was banned in this country after a huge, cross-country campaign to ban it. Led by information produced by sailors and supported by pamphlets and grass roots campaign groups across the country.

      Slavery was thought by most to be as much of an abomination in its day as it is now. It is just that for people like Colston, the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and the misery for many hundred thousands more was justified for the huge wealth it gave him.

      Plus Bristol was more than just a port of embarkation The Merchant Venturers lobbied the government hard for permission to slave trade from Bristol. Bristol has much to be ashamed of and much to be proud of as well, as it was campaigners in Bristol who did much to end this barbaric trade.

      You seem to know nothing about the subject but are very ready to spread disinformation for the benefit of dead genocidal businessmen.

      Reply
      1. Horfield Harry

        If slavery had been considered evil back then in the way that you claim, then Colston would not have been celebrated in the way that he was. If the government gave permission to the Merchant Venturers then that rather proves my point that the responsibility for Bristol’s involvement is shared by others outside the city.
        Black people didn’t come here in the 1950s on the understanding that they could change the names of our concert halls when they had been here a while. The name Colston Hall is tied up for many with fond memories of enjoyable concerts over the years and we shouldn’t have to change it so that a few people can feel a tiny bit less angry or guilty.

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  4. Concerned

    Maybe times were different then, and slavery was seen as ‘just one of those things’. Fact remains, most of the current Merchant Venturers of which the arrogant Ferguson was one, (though he has now said he isnt), have inherited their wealth and positions of power directly from the genocide and enslavement of black people.

    They should be stripped of their assets, land and power immediately and at the very least invested in projects for the people of Bristol and also reparations for black descendants whose relatives were exploited beyond comprehension.

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  5. Horfield Harry

    Maybe African countries should also pay reparations to the black descendants of slavery, to make up for removing the liberty of their fellow Africans and selling them to the European slavers.
    Remember that it was the paying of reparations after WW1 that created the conditions in which Hitler and the Nazis came to power. Reparations perpetuate bitterness.

    Reply
    1. harry

      Maybe they should.

      But how does that justify naming a concert hall after one of the most grotesque and barbaric businessmen in the history of the city

      Reply
  6. Concerned

    OK he gave some of his ill gotten gains from mass murder, and working men women and children to death, to the city. Well done Mr Colston. Hence we have two Colston Schools, Colston Street, Colston Hall…etc.

    Its not right though, it’s like Hannover having a Himmler Hall

    Reply

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