Tag Archives: Colston Hall

AND THE BANDS PLAY ON

Colston Hall: no cuts

So there’s less money to buy furniture for BATTERED MUMS lucky enough to get an unfurnished shell of a home off the council; a fifth of the CHILDREN’S CENTRES designed to support our city’s most vulnerable kids will be closed down and LOCAL COUNCIL OFFICES ideal for the elderly, infirm and isolated to easily access public services from will shut their doors but fans of mainstream music and comedy can, at least, rejoice.

Because the Rev Rees, with his laser-like focus on fairness and equality, has agreed to continue handing over £1m a year for the next three years to the BRISTOL MUSIC TRUST who run the Colston Hall. Phew! Guess we’ve got to keep those FAT FEES rolling in for millionaire musicians and the rolling roster of state-subsidised BBC/Oxbridge touring comedians haven’t we?

Meanwhile those all-important CREATIVES doing all that vital and well-paid marketing work for the entertainment industry, directly subsidised by the state, can’t possibly be expected to attend a JOB CENTRE when there’s a perfectly adequate pool of undervalued underpaid childcare professionals available for the task.

Priorities eh, Reverend?

AUSTERITY MY ARSE

CultureIt hasn’t taken long for Marvin “The Reverend” Rees to turn into another nasty little Tory Boy RUINING THE LIVES of his low paid council staff so that he can FEATHER THE NESTS of the city’s wealthy elite has it?

Less than three months into his ‘REIGN OF ERROR‘ and Marvin has announced that he will need to make 1,000 staff at his council REDUNDANT to “balance the books”. Virtually all these staff will be low paid and will be working in ESSENTIAL public services like adult care, education, social services and housing.

These HORRIFYING CUTS have been spun by the Reverend’s new £63k a year trade union PR girl, Kevin “Slow Brain” Slocombe, as entirely the fault of Tory government austerity and Mayor-no-more George Ferguson. The dynamic business and corporate-friendly Labour duo claim that George left behind a £29m debt for 2016 – 17 of unachieved savings.

Really? So how come a report accepted by Marvin and his cabinet in July – just ONE MONTH before his cuts announcement – assured us, “This report shows that the Council has been able to deliver on its saving plans and balance its base budget in what continues to be a challenging fiscal environment.”

It then goes on to say, “The current financial strategy, consisting of the final year of the 2013-17 MTFS, will be sufficient to balance the Councils budget in 2016/17.”

So what happened in a month to create a £29m black hole in this balanced budget? WHO’S TELLING THE TRUTH? Marvin in July or Marvin in August?

Meanwhile, Slow Brain and the Reverend’s claim that they have no choice but to fire 1,000 staff on low pay fails to stand up to BASIC SCRUTINY when you start to look at the expenditure they’ve either already authorised or are intending authorise and for whom.

In late June Marvin and his cabinet had no problem in handing the COLSTON HALL £1.6m up front to develop their refurbishment plans while also agreeing in principle to chuck them a further £10m to achieve these plans.

At the same meeting, similar generosity was shown to the BRISTOL OLD VIC – who were awarded £1m to underwrite their refurbishment plans – and to another concert hall – ST GEORGE’S – who received £600k to help them with their rebuilding efforts.

And it doesn’t stop there. In September Marvin will award those famously poverty stricken organisations – BUSINESS WEST and the UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL – an undisclosed subsidy of over £500k to keep their ‘Set Squared’ creative industries ‘business incubator’ running the way they’ve become accustomed to at Brunel’s stylish ENGINE SHED at Temple Meads.

Also in the loop for an undisclosed public handout (of £500k plus) from the Reverend is the THE BOTTLE YARD film and TV studios in south Bristol. Because we can’t have austerity in the high-earning film industry can we?

This is all before we get on to the really high ticket projects Marvin is backing. He’s still committed to the £150m ARENA project, assuring anyone who will listen it’s affordable despite only having £100m to build it.

The other £50m will come from the council taxpayer until that income stream runs dry when Marvin, no doubt, will throw another few bodies on to his HUMAN BONFIRE and sack a few more staff running essential services to balance his crooked books.

Finally we have Marvin’s uncosted and unfunded EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE bid. To make himself look good in the ruins of the public services he’ll be running, the Reverend intends to make the city Capital of Culture in 2023 at an undisclosed cost.

HOW MUCH this will cost or WHAT USE it will be to any one not involved in of Marvin’s heavily subsidised high-earning creative industries is anyone’s guess. But what the hell? It’s only other people’s money and other people’s jobs isn’t it?

In less than THREE MONTHS Marvin’s mayoralty has turned into a hyopcritical farce and an elitist backscratching exercise.

“No one left behind” he says? Except for 1,000 council staff running essential services and their familes …

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…?