Fifteen Years, Two Fingers
Last year (2006) we celebrated fifteen years of the Arches – mustn’t look back – keep trying something different, something new – that has to be the trick. We started as a young(ish) bunch of theatre artists wanting to stage shows in one of these derelict arches and realised that it wouldn’t make a bad club space either – with club nights better able to pay the rent than theatre shows. That’s how it’s been ever since.
Our range of events has grown significantly – encompassing live music, performance and visual art, festivals and corporate events – but the philosophy has always been the same. With two fingers to the status quo, we aim to re-define what performance should be about, and we always discriminate in favour of new and emerging talent.
Arches founder and Artistic Director
STOP PRESS: As part of its fifteenth anniversary celebrations, the Arches is delighted to announce that exemplary Scottish playwright and director Liz Lochhead, and superstar DJ Carl Cox, have agreed to become Patrons of the Arches.
Although theirs are not necessarily names that fit together, Cox and Lochhead were chosen because they represent the diversity of the Arches’ programming. Andy Arnold founded the venue as a theatre space in 1991, and discovered that putting on club nights was an excellent way to help support his artistic programme. This practise continues to this day; clubbing revenue generating income for the theatre, visual art and live music programme in the building. In the unlikely pairing of Liz Lochhead and Carl Cox, the Arches has two figureheads who sum up the variety of events the venue is capable of.
“How much can one space reflect the identity of an entire city? The Arches has come to hold a position that the average company can only dream of. It is the epitome of raw, slightly edgy, underground chic. In short, the Arches is the creative heart of the city.” – The List
In 1991, Andy Arnold realised the potential of the cavernous space underneath Glasgow’s Central Station and received the keys to the space from British Rail. Fifteen years on, the Arches has become one of Europe’s leading cultural venues – in 2005, over 200,000 people came through our doors for a variety of events. The multiple possibilities of the space mean that we play host to some of Britain’s hippest club nights, live music and comedy events, exciting new theatre and visual art exhibitions. People often drop in for lunch or a drink in our café bar and end up staying for the rest of the evening – catching a band or a piece of experimental theatre, taking in some art or meeting up with friends before getting on to the dancefloor.
The Arches is unique amongst both Scotland’s bars and clubs and the country’s arts venues because of the unique way our programme is funded. We’re a not-for-profit organisation: our clubbing, bar, café, live music and corporate hospitality revenue is reinvested in our arts programme (constituting 88% of our funding) – allowing us to carry on producing intelligent, ground-breaking productions and offering emergent artists a supportive platform for risk-taking. We like to think that we make the arts accessible to new, younger audiences, but we never dumb down to patronise them.
We set out to respond to changing cultural interests, particularly amongst young people, in Glasgow and throughout Scotland. The Arches is perfectly suited to explore this type of work because it houses such a diverse range of cultural activity. As we enter our fifteenth year we continue to break down entrenched notions of what an arts venue should be, making use of the cross-fertilisation between clubbing culture and visual art, live music and theatre audiences, while our café bar thrives as Central Glasgow’s top cultural hub, meeting place and hang-out.
Scotland’s coolest arts venue” – The Sunday Herald, September 2005