Arena Studios & Gallery – A History

Arena Art & Design Association was founded in 1985 with the aim of promoting excellence in the arts via offering affordable studio space, a collective ethos and through the skills of its members.

Housed in Arena House on Duke Street in the heart of Liverpool, Arena has provided space to hundreds of artists and creatives over twenty years. The basement acted as rehearsal space for bands from Echo and the Bunny Men to Hot Club De Paris.

In 2004, Arena Gallery was established in the Duke Street premises and showcased the work of local, national and international artists in over two years until it’s closure. In 2006, Arena and it’s forty studio members were forced to leave their long standing home on Duke Street due to escalating rent brought about by the Liverpool One development. The 2006 Biennial exhibition, the last in Arena Gallery and funded by the Arts Council, was a hugely successful event.

A move to the Baltic Triangle near the edge of the city centre and on the edge of Liverpool city centre saw a reduction in Arena’s size in its new 4 Jordan Street premises. Arena Directors recognised the need to locate a suitable long term home and in 2008 signed a ten year lease for space to move in to the Elevator Building, Parliament Street. The 2008 Biennial saw two successful exhibitions ‘The Baltic Frame’ and ‘Drawn In’ provide a farewell to the Jordan Street venue.

Upon moving to our new premises, Arena secured funding from The Foyle Foundation to build and reestablish Arena Gallery in the Elevator Building. The gallery launched in April 2009 with Coller Elective.

Arena Art & Design Association is now known as Arena Studios & Gallery but under the recognisable name of Arena, the rich history of the group continues to grow and develop.