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…?