From ground-breaking theatre to huge name DJs and hot new bands, The Arches in Glasgow breaks down any traditional notions of what an arts venue should be.
In 1991, former Arches Artistic Director Andy Arnold realised the potential of the cavernous space underneath Glasgow’s Central Station and received the keys to the space from British Rail. Twenty years on, the Arches has become one of Europe’s leading cultural venues, playing host to some of Britain’s biggest club nights and an eclectic range of gigs, as well as exciting new theatre and visual art exhibitions. People often drop in for lunch or a drink in the café bar and end up staying for the rest of the evening – catching a band, taking in some experimental theatre, or meeting up with friends before heading to the dance floor.
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.
In 2008 the Arches appointed Jackie Wylie as its new Artistic Director. Jackie has fostered an increasing international outlook for the Arches whilst maintaining a keen awareness of The Arches role in providing audiences and artists with the confidence to explore experimental theatrical forms. She has overseen a significant expansion in The Arches key festivals introducing new, daring, physical and visual work to Glasgow audiences including groundbreaking performances from the T.E.A.M, Ann Liv Young and Akhe. She has also ensured the status of the venue as the key provider of support for emergent artists in Scotland and as such the national leader in unearthing innovation, bravery and risk taking across all performance disciplines including the introduction of Scratch and The Arches Brick Award.
The Arches patrons are Carl Cox and Liz Lochhead. 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.
Address: The Arches
253 Argyle Street,
By Bus: From Buchanan Bus Station walk all the way down Buchanan Street until you reach Argyle Street and turn right.
By Underground: St Enoch’s tube is two minutes away.
Wheelchair Access: We have level access to our Studio Theatre and main arch spaces as well as a wheelchair-accessible lift to our Café Bar and basement spaces. Accessible toilets are available in both the Café Bar and main arch spaces. There is room for up to 6 wheelchairs in our Studio Theatre – please let Box Office know when booking if any of your party are wheelchair users. A raised platform is available for wheelchair users at standing concerts – please let Box Office know in advance if this is required. Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs are welcome in the Arches.
An Infra-red Modulator is available in our Studio Theatre. Please let Box Office know in advance if this is required. An Induction Loop is available at Box Office – please turn your hearing aid to the T position.
Please ask Box Office or Front of House staff for help should you require assistance with any of our facilities. We offer free tickets to assistants for people with impairments to all Arches arts events.