The Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts - a bustling cultural venue that sees 700,000 visits each year.
School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX
Tuesday to Sunday 11:00am–5:00pm
Access facilities available
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Our city centre positioning, our building’s heritage, and our hospitality business help attract an audience that is diverse in age, gender, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We host a regular programme of exhibitions, live events, workshops and discussions covering a range of art forms including visual art, music, dance and literature. Our participation programme enables people who might otherwise face barriers to engagement to be involved in the contemporary arts. The Bluecoat, based in a grade I listed building, is also home to a community of creative retailers, working artists’ studios, a cafe and a bistro.
The oldest building in Liverpool city centre, the Bluecoat has a complex history. It started life as a church charity school for orphans 300 years ago. The school moved to Wavertree in 1906 and the building has been an arts centre, the first in the UK, ever since. The Bluecoat’s eighteenth-century origins are connected to the sea, when many merchants supported the school with funds derived from maritime trade, including transatlantic slavery. The arts centre continues to interrogate this and other colonial histories through exhibitions, performances and projects, working with artists and communities, as well as ongoing research. The Bluecoat has always played a major part in Liverpool’s cultural life, from hosting the likes of Picasso and Stravinsky during the early twentieth century, to developing relationships with artists such as Yoko Ono and George Melly. Its public programmes have attracted national acclaim for hosting leading figures from the arts and entertainment worlds while nurturing new talent locally. Surviving wartime bombs and turbulent political and economic times, the Bluecoat remains a symbol of Liverpool’s resilience and creativity. Today, it is more popular than ever, with its mix of architecture, arts, shops, café, a garden to relax in, and a wealth of stories.