This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > > Bristol’s Colston Hall shortlisted for South West Tourism Awards for Access and Inclusivity

Bristol’s Colston Hall has been shortlisted as a finalist for a South West Tourism Award in the Access and Inclusivity category and will now go on to compete in the national Visit England Awards on behalf of the South West.

A photograph of the British Paraorchestra performing at Colston Hall.

British Paraorchestra performing at Colston Hall.

All 490 entrants were put through a comprehensive entry process, including visits carried out by a team of 42 judges and mystery shoppers and panel discussions, in order to reach the shortlist stage. Judges determined that Colston Hall had a clear commitment to accessibility and was extremely consultative, such as with the charity Attitude is Everything, from whom it has recently been awarded a bronze award for accessibility measures.

The judges highlighted Colston Hall’s creation of the Fast Forward Festival, which it held in May this year. The two-day event assembled young disabled and non-disabled musicians on a scale never before seen in the UK, and aimed to challenge attitudes to disability in the music industry. It included a performance by British Paraorchestra, the 26 piece orchestra conducted by Charles Hazelwood, in front of over 600 people.

The festival successfully raised the issue of the need for concert venues across the UK to improve disabled access for performers, audiences, and music pupils. In order to stage the event, the Hall completed £10,500 worth of accessibility adaptations, including a ramp for performers to get onto the stage.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust, which runs Colston Hall, said:

“Our ambition is to set new national standards for on disability and accessibility in music. The success of the Fast Forward Festival showed what Colston Hall can achieve when one-off facilities are installed to improve access for disabled people. Through our £45 million transformation, we want to make our concert halls and music education facilities accessible all year round. Being shortlisted for this Award is a fantastic recognition of our ambitions and commitment.”

Colston Hall launched the ‘Thank You for the Music’ appeal in September 2014, and is already a third of the way to its £45 million target, following commitments by Bristol City Council and the Government. The redevelopment is due to commence in 2017, and is expected to be completed by 2019.

In October of this year, Colston Hall launched its 45k for £45m campaign, which is calling upon 45,000 people across Bristol, the region and the country to support its £45 million transformation. Click here to sign up to the 45k for 45m campaign.

For further reading on disability and music, check out DAO's Sound of Disability project.