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Bristol Beacon name change

Bristol Beacon is the new name for what was Colston Hall – the 150-year-old concert venue in Bristol.

Aim

To create and support the announcement for the name change of Colston Hall in 2020, following a summer of Black Lives Matters protests, to remove the perceived association with the slave trader Edward Colston.

Activity

The new name for Colston Hall was originally due to be made in Spring 2020 but was delayed by the UK’s first lockdown. Following the pulling down of Edward Colston’s statue in June after a series of Black Lives Matters protests, it was decided that the name change should be completed.

With national and international interest in Bristol following Colston’s statue removal, and strong views about the changing of Colston Hall’s name, an announcement event was required that would accommodate changing COVID-19 restrictions and be accessible to a global audience.

Strike worked with Bristol Music Trust and local partners to create an impactful, sensitive and inclusive event. Whilst needing to work completely digitally, it also needed to be designed to capture the essence of the values of the organisation – unity and joy through the shared experience of live music.

The virtual event, which took place in September 2020, included:

 

  • The creation of a beautiful and unique visual light experience projected onto the building overnight, showing echoes of past performers, in a way that made the most of the gold panelling on the building and appeared as if the light was shining out from within. The projections were captured and streamed on Bristol Beacon’s social media channels.
  • The name announcement itself was conducted in the venue’s large foyer without a live audience or any guests, filmed and live streamed for a virtual audience. Short speeches were given by Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, and Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees. These were followed by the reading of a poem, especially written for the occasion by Bristol’s City Poet, Vanessa Kissuule, and presented in the form of a short film using a diverse range of people from across Bristol speaking the lines from a range of locations around the city. The venue’s new name was revealed for the first time in the last line of the poem.
  • A mini microsite was created, which was embedded on the home page of Bristol Beacon’s website, for the event to be live streamed through. This meant that anyone could watch it, wherever they were in the world, and provided high quality output. A user selectable British Sign Language version of the event was also offered.
  • Following the live announcement, a mix of pre-recorded interviews and showcase videos, along with edited content from the live announcement, was streamed via the venue’s social media channels throughout the day.

Results

  • The announcement was watched in over 15 countries and ingested either live or for recording by over 40 media outlets.
  • It made headlines around the world, with over 300 pieces of media coverage obtained.
  • #BristolBeacon was trending at no.3 in the UK on Twitter and engagement on across all social media channels was in the high thousands – most importantly, the vast majority of sentiment was positive.
  • Bristol Beacon was quickly adopted by the majority of Bristolians, with it being shortened in minutes to ‘The Beaks’ and people calling for it to serve ‘Beacon baps’ in its cafe.