A Cultural Heritage for Liverpool

In our latest project, the Bluecoat has embarked on a period of research and development to find out how we can use our building’s rich heritage to become more resilient.

The arts centre was delighted to receive funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to conduct a period of ‘resilience’ research and development this year. We want to find out how we can use the rich heritage of our building and its transformation from charity school to arts centre, to become more sustainable as we map out our direction of travel beyond 2024.

As we develop a more active role in telling the story of Liverpool through a cultural lens, we are focusing on five strands of work.

Firstly, we are finding out what audiences, existing and new, are interested in in relation to the Bluecoat’s heritage. We are doing this through focus groups, interviews and other research. At the same time, we are working with groups of children and their families and young people, including some with learning disabilities, to find out through practical art workshops where their interests and points of interest in the Bluecoat lay.

The results here will then be presented in a public programme and will also help to inform our plans going forward. Future programming is also the focus of the third project strand, which is researching ideas for the next three – five years’ priorities at the Bluecoat, a period that includes the centenary of the Bluecoat Society of Arts, the organisation that established the building as the UK’s first arts centre in 1927.

We are consulting with universities, independent researchers, artists, a school, national networks and local communities to see if their current thinking aligns with the narratives that we are interested in at the Bluecoat, around our origins as a charity school 300-years ago and our colonial legacies. These have been explored most recently through our heritage participation project Echoes and Origins.

The Bluecoat archive is mainly focused on our century-long history as a centre for the arts and we have brought in expert advice to review the material that exists physically in our building and at Liverpool Records Office, as well as digitally, and to come up with a plan to develop this important resource. We will also research other material relating to the Blue Coat School, which moved from its School Lane premises to a new home in Wavertree in 1906, to see if there are possibilities to connect to resources here, as well as to other relevant archives.

Finally, we are working with lead designers on our capital development of the upstairs Bistro space, to scope out our public spaces and options for making the building more porous and the arts centre and its activities more accessible.

To find out more about this project contact Bryan Biggs, Director of Cultural Legacies: bryan.b@thebluecoat.org.uk

Funded by