Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson visits the city’s Bluecoat as part of the historic building’s 300th birthday celebrations
Mayor Anderson met senior members of staff and trustees at the Grade I listed centre for contemporary arts to hear about the successes of the birthday year, along with plans for the city centre venue’s future.
He was also taken on a tour of the Bluecoat’s current anniversary exhibition, In the Peaceful Dome, which includes a painting by artist Paul Clarkson of Liverpool-born John Archer, who became London’s first black lord mayor when he was made Lord Mayor of Battersea in 1913. The artwork is on loan from Liverpool City Council.
In the Peaceful Dome traces the threads that connect points from the Bluecoat’s past with the present, and its themes include the global trade, which made Liverpool second city of Empire. Many wealthy merchants supported the former Bluecoat charity school through donations or bequests during the 18th century.
This key part of Liverpool’s history will be at the heart of Bluecoat 300: Charity, Philanthropy and the Black Atlantic – a two-day event on 24-25 November exploring links between the Transatlantic Slave Trade and charitable giving, and their presence in both Bluecoat’s and the city’s heritage.
Along with Bluecoat’s landmark anniversary, 2017 also marks 10 years since the opening of the International Slavery Museum.
Mayor Anderson said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been able to visit Bluecoat during what has been a very special year for a very special venue, which sits within Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage site. Not only is it the oldest surviving building in the city centre, but it is also the oldest arts centre in the country.
“Visitors to Liverpool are rightly impressed by our wonderful historic cityscape. But it is also right that we acknowledge the circumstances in which the Liverpool of the past grew and prospered – and I commend Bluecoat for doing just that through the forthcoming series of events taking place later this month.”
Bluecoat chief executive Mary Cloake added: “This has been an anniversary year to remember.
“We have been able to look back at and celebrate Bluecoat’s many achievements, while also taking stock of where we are now and considering what the centre’s role will be in a future Liverpool.
“Bluecoat is a much-loved, grand old lady at 300, but like Liverpool itself, it has a challenging and contradictory history, where good deeds are inextricably bound with profiting from the misery of others. I expect our Bluecoat 300: Charity, Philanthropy and the Black Atlantic event to be an enlightening and invigorating two days of talks, tours, displays and activities.”
Mayor Anderson also paid a visit to Blue Room, Bluecoat’s inclusive arts programme for learning disabled adults. Since 2008, three groups of Blue Room artists have met weekly to explore the exhibitions and create their own art work. Members are supported to develop creative and social skills, building confidence and greater independence.
Image: Bluecoat Artistic Director Bryan Biggs, Bluecoat Chief Executive Mary Cloake, Mayor Joe Anderson, Bluecoat Board Member Cy Powell.