Performing arts have been central to Bluecoat since the early 20th century. Then, breakaway art school group, the Sandon Studios Society, and its supporters who established the building as an arts centre, staged concerts and plays, as well as cabarets and parties, at which there was live entertainment. The Sandon's music and drama groups were active for many years, and its dining room hosted visits from many illustrious composers, including Stravinsky, Holst, Bartok, and musicians, actors and choreographers like Kathleen Ferrier, George Balanchine, Margot Fonteyn and Laurence Olivier. The Concert Hall upstairs was the location for many memorable performances, and this collection gives a snapshot of some of them.

There is very little documentation of events until the 1980s, so the main focus here is on that and subsequent decades, when the programme became increasingly eclectic and adventurous, moving beyond the building to other sites and venues in the city. This reflected Bluecoat’s embrace of more experimental work, particularly in the field of live art and, along with its visual arts profile, its growing reputation as a multi-art form arts centre. 

There are hundreds more performance images in our archive, which will become available on this website as we develop our collections. You can also search our season brochures, all of which, from the early 1980s to the present, are included here. These list the many performances that have taken place here, including classical, jazz, folk, experimental and global music, poetry and literature, theatre, live art and other performances.

Image: Elin Strand live art performance, Speaking Bernina, in the Concert Hall during the exhibition, Veil (2003).

1920

Sandon cabaret design by George Harris

1965

Liverpool Mozart Orchestra rehearsing at Bluecoat

1967

Yoko Ono event at Bluecoat

1990

Urban Strawberry Lunch performance

1985

Summer Dance '85 Brochure

1987

Phil Hughes and Bob Connolly, Executive Golf

1988

Peter McRae, Avenue of Heroes, St. George's Plateau

1988

TEA, Baggages performance

1989

Keith Khan, Soucouyan performance

1989

Robin Blackledge performance

1990

Sun Ra and his Cosmic Love Arkestra at Bluecoat

1990

Lily Savage at the Liverpool Comedy Festival

1992

Delta Streete, gallery performance

1993

Jazz Poetry Conversation event poster

1995

Nina Edge, Sold Down the River

1996

Euro 96 Football Fashion Show in the Bluecoat courtyard

1996

Jane Sanders, Elvis Elvis Lives

1997

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Doing it for the kids

1997

Jeremy Deller, Acid Brass

1997

Rona Lee, Autonomous

1999

Max Factory, offsite performance

2002

Cai Yuan and JJ Xi performance

2004

Grace Surman, White

2004

Amanda Coogan, Beethoven the Headbangers

2005

He-Chengyao, offsite performance

2008

Richard DeDomenici, Bored of Shopping, Liverpool One

2006

Philip Jeck performance, Shanghai Biennale

2006

Marcus Young performance, Church Street, Liverpool

2009

Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping at Bluecoat

2009

Janek Schaefer performance

2009

Tom Smith, Music For Sleeping

2009

Angie Hiesl, TWINS – how do I know I am me ...

2009

Angie Hiesl Produktion: The making of TWINS - how do I know I am me, 2009

2010

Bed in at the Bluecoat, with Chuck Perkins

2011

Rhys Chatham performance

1965

Sandon Sound LP

1967

Mark Boyle event, 1967

1981

Sounds Scintillating Brochure, 1981-82

1980

Schools music workshop in the Concert Hall

2003

Elin Strand, Speaking Bernina

1980

Unknown dance performance

1990

Unknown youth dance performance

2004

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival at Bluecoat

2017

Poster for Captain Beefheart Weekend