This book tells the fascinating story of Bluecoat, Liverpool's oldest city centre building, and its transformation from charity school to contemporary arts centre, the UK’s first. Its early 18th century origins shed light on the religious and maritime environment of the growing port, whose merchants supported the school. Echoes from then are revealed in themes explored by artists in the 20th century and today, including slavery and colonial legacies, philanthropy and innovation.
Edited by John Belchem and Bryan Biggs, and published in Summer 2020 by Liverpool University Press, the book includes a chapter on the charity school's origins and reveals the identity of the architects of this much-loved Liverpool institution. The rest of the book explores the founding of the arts centre, the Sandon Studios Society, postwar developments in the arts programme including the gallery, music, dance, live art ad literature, as well as chapters on the colourful life of the building - a place that is more than just a centre for the contemporary arts, but an essential social hub for Liverpool.