The Black-E (formerly The Blackie) began with the commitment to combine a contemporary arts centre with a community centre. When - having taken over the former Great George Street Congregational Church in October 1967 with the support of Peter (now Sir Peter) Moores - the team of artists led by Wendy and Bill Harpe began their cultural adventures with long term aims and with an 'open door' policy. And what might have seemed almost fortuitous at the time of the public launch in May 1968 can now be seen as essential ingredients in determining the character of the U.K.'s first community arts project, and in creating a centre where all the arts (performing and making, experimental and traditional) might engage with all the people who chose to come through the doors (young and old, disadvantaged and privileged).
Our home and base is the former Great George Street Congregational Chapel and originally derived its familiar name the Blackie (now the Black-E) as a shortened version of 'The Black Church' - a description of the Chapel in the 1960's covered with over a hundred years of inner-city smoke and grime. Although stone cleaned in the 1980's the building still retains its name.