As the UK’s first arts centre, constituted in 1927, the Bluecoat has long engaged with Liverpool’s cultural and civic life, providing a home for artists, cultural societies, creative retailers, festivals, and a place for public discourse and social interaction. It has also taken art out into the city, interacting with local people in a variety of ways, such as artists’ interventions into the public realm and participation programmes with communities.
This collection reflects some of the ways in which the Bluecoat has used such strategies to develop a more civic voice, going beyond being simply a venue that presents art in its spaces. This snapshot of some of the key strands of the arts centre’s civic engagement includes initiating debates, hosting residencies by artists and academics, and global cultural exchange programmes. A range of themes is covered, such as local democracy, housing, public space, the accessible city, sharing knowledge, pathways to creativity, and contested histories.