Published date 20 September 2021

A beacon for the future: Metro Mayor checks on concert venue’s transformation

Dan Norris at the Beacon site
Image credit: Bristol Beacon

Metro Mayor Dan Norris has followed in the footsteps of The Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald by visiting an iconic Bristol concert venue.

He took a tour of the Bristol Beacon on Thursday 16 September to check out the progress being made with the major redevelopment underway there. The once-in-a-generation transformation is being supported by £11.85m from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority which the Metro Mayor leads.

The West of England Mayor was shown a range of redevelopment work including two new balconies in the main hall, new world-class acoustic installations and specialist glass windows in the Lantern restoring it to how the original Victorian building intended it to be.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “It’s come a long way since I saw Slade here as a teenager. The 1970s are far, far away and the Bristol Beacon’s transformation is shaping up nicely for the venue to play a huge part in the West of England’s cultural life, every day for years to come.

“It’s going to be a wonderful place for people from across the region and beyond to visit to enjoy live arts and music. Arts and culture organisations, and local people getting involved in outreach programmes too will all feel the benefit of the new Bristol Beacon.”

The £107m transformation of Bristol Beacon is one of the most ambitious and significant arts regeneration projects in the UK, transforming the 150-year-old building to become a fully accessible, world-class concert venue to attract the best performers from around the world.

The work is being delivered in a partnership between building owners Bristol City Council, Bristol Music Trust – the charity that operates it, and Willmott Dixon, the construction firm carrying out the work. The project has already improved the employability of 3,623 young people across a variety of educational settings through apprenticeships and work experience opportunities.

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, “We were delighted to welcome West of England Mayor Norris for a tour of Bristol Beacon, to see first-hand the incredible work that is going on to transform our building into a world-class venue for the whole of Bristol and beyond as well as creating a cultural base for music education in the city. We are extremely grateful to our partners and funders, including the West of England Combined Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership, for their continuous support which is enabling this ambitious project to be completed.”

Dan Norris at the Beacon building siteThe Bristol Beacon, which is due to open in 2023, is expected to become the first concert venue in the UK to become carbon neutral by 2030. Once complete, the building will deliver around 800 events a year, including 100 performance slots a year dedicated to championing Bristol-based artists.

Deputy Mayor of Bristol Council, Councillor Craig Cheney said: “It’s exciting to witness the immense scale of the Bristol Beacon which has had no major refurbishment for 60 years. As well as bringing numerous cultural benefits to citizens and visitors, it will play an important part in our economic recovery from the pandemic. The venue will bring an estimated £13m income and 273 jobs in its first year of re-opening, rising to £253.7m GVA after 20 years.”

The Grade II listed building has been a cultural hub at the heart of the city since 1867, achieving an international reputation for its broad and diverse programme of performances. Notable past appearances include The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Sergei Rachmaninoff, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, London Symphony Orchestra, Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald.

(Photo credit: Bristol Beacon)

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