Plymouth Arts Centre

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Plymouth Arts Centre

Plymouth Arts Centre is a centre for contemporary art, independent cinema and creative learning based in the Barbican area of Plymouth, UK. It was first opened in 1947 with funding from the newly formed Arts Council of Great Britain. It is located in a Grade II listed town house in Looe Street, and includes space for exhibitions, a cinema, artist studios, a café and a bar. Beryl Cook had her first exhibition here, and many other artists held exhibitions here early in their careers.


Founded in 1947 in a Grade II listed town house in Looe Street, Plymouth Arts Centre was opened by art historian Kenneth Clark.[1] The building is listed as part of a significant group of seventeenth and eighteenth century town houses in the street, many of which are listed. It is a three-storey building that at one time was used as a shop. It has a painted brick front and a steep slate half-hipped roof with deep moulded eaves.[2]

Plymouth Arts Centre was one of seven arts centres set up around the country with funds from the newly established Arts Council of Great Britain.[3] The centre comprises gallery spaces, a 61-seater cinema, artist studios, café and bar space and receives over 70,000 visitors a year.[4]

The artist, Beryl Cook had her first exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre in 1975,[5] and Bernard Samuels, then Director of the Plymouth Arts Centre, is credited with discovering her.[6]

Other artists who have held exhibitions in Plymouth Arts Centre include Patrick Heron, Tracey Emin, Allen Ginsberg, Tom Raworth, Peter Greenaway, Ralph Steadman, Vong Phaophanit, Richard Deacon, Andy Goldsworthy and Sir Terry Frost. Many people exhibited here at the start of their careers and went on to become household names.[7]

In 2008, to celebrate its diamond jubilee, the centre had a retrospective exhibition, displaying an assortment of old programmes, photographs, posters, invitations and ephemera that had been stored for years in the attics at the centre. The archives have a gap, with a number of years missing between 1957 and the 1970s. The centre staff are hoping that these will turn up in somebody else's attic.[7]


  1. ^ "Arts centre's rich canvas | This is Plymouth". 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013. Sir Kenneth Clark
  2. ^ "38, Looe Street, Plymouth". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Application Office 2013.pdf" (PDF). pdf.js. 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. Just seven arts centres
  4. ^ "Navaho Technologies: Digital Signage, Content Creation, Network Security and Managed Network ServicesPlymouth Arts Centre". 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013. over 70,00 visitors every year
  5. ^ "The Official Beryl Cook site - offering Beryl Cook's original paintings, prints, calendars, books, exclusive content, press cutt". 2013. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Plymouth to host major Beryl Cook exhibition". 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. Bernard Samuels,Director of the Plymouth Arts Centre
  7. ^ a b "BBC - Devon - Arts and Culture - Art for Plymouth's sake". 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.

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Coordinates: 50°22′10″N 4°08′14″W / 50.3695°N 4.1373°W / 50.3695; -4.1373