Posted Dec 11 2023 | By Thomas Böhringer

Inside Bristol Beacon: Education Suite – The Future of Music

The Bristol Beacon redevelopment has been partially made possible by the support of Arts Council England (ACE) funding on the proviso that the Beacon was run with greater artistic and educational ambition. This led to the establishment of British Music Trust which has operated the Hall since 2011 with their core values of education, entertainment, and enterprise at heart.

During the initial options appraisal for the redevelopment, it was concluded that the underutilised and historically interesting parts of the building needed to return to beneficial use to generate income in support of the artistic programming of the main hall.

The dilapidated but atmospheric former bonded cellars beneath Beacon Hall presented an ideal space for a suite of creative spaces for music education, practice rooms, a library, recording studio for digital music lab and a new cellar venue for smaller, more intimate sessions and emerging artists. See here for our previous post on the Weston Stage.

Through the re-development BMT will become a National Centre for Music providing Entertainment, Education and Enterprise to drive music development across Bristol and work in partnership with city-wide organisations, lead on musical education, commission new works, support local musicians and promote music across all communities. BMT wants the Bristol music scene to stand out through its own unique culture and internationally renowned reputation.

Daytime week-day use will be by mainly able-bodied musicians such as UWE Week-day evenings and day-time week-end use will be by mainly SEND partners such as Open-up Music.

This self-contained suite of spaces for music education and creativity comprises of four practice rooms, two creative cubicles, a recording studio, mac room, social area and library, and instrument storage. Each space has been carefully designed to respond to the varies acoustic requirements for each room and associated instruments using a mixture of acoustically absorbent and reflective surfaces, utilising the existing brick fabric in conjunction with insulated acoustic fabric wall lining. Rooms are highly isolated from other spaces. This provides a unique visual and sound experience allowing the user to completely focus on the instrument during practice and recording sessions.

By bringing these spaces back into meaningful use, we have created a centre of excellence for music of all kinds, where it can be created, performed, recorded, and broadcast; and where people of all levels of interest can discover, enjoy, learn, develop skills, participate, and get involved in music performance. This is an education space for children and young people, providing music-making and learning opportunities as the home of Bristol Plays Music, and a Centre for Advance Training (CAT) for young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND).