It was just over a year ago that the statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol during anti-racism protests. The conversation about Coslton’s legacy in Bristol has been alive for many more years prior, relating to the statue and the many streets and buildings given his name.
In Easton, local residents who live on Colston Road have been campaigning for the name to be changed since well before the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 that brought this issue to global attention, just like others in the City. These campaigns have been somewhat unsuccessful – what does this mean for those who live on the street? At community level, what effect has this had and what action can be taken now?
Through the autumn and winter of 2021/2022, Play:Disrupt has been supporting a community consultation engaging local residents with the opportunity to creatively respond to the existing ‘Colston Road’ name and co-create something that is meaningful, thought-provoking and visual. Supported by Bristol City Council’s Cultural Investment Programme – Originators Fund, and the We Are Bristol History Commission, we are working with residents, local artists and artists in Charlotte, North Carolina in our first collaboration with the USA based League of Creative Interventionists.
The consultation works towards an artistic visual response on the street- this could be a mural, a plaque or something else and will be co-designed with residents. The work, and indeed the conversation itself will aim to encapsulate the residents’ diversity of thoughts and opinions, allowing them to take ownership and for everyone’s voice to be heard. It is important that we engage a diverse and representative mix of the community in this conversation – and so we are initially focusing on ensuring we hear from members of the black community and balance both residents who have lived here for generations, as well as more recent.
We’ve been talking to residents face to face on the doorstep and at very local events; online in meets, workshops and via social platforms. If you read this and know someone on Colston Road BS5 please let them know.
We hope that the learning from this local project will be useful to citywide and indeed national conversations about our country’s heritage and aims to alleviate that oppression in a creative, fair, empowered way.
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