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Our story

About us

Lakeside Terrace

Photo by Dion Barrett

We're a catalyst for creativity, sparking possibilities for artists, audiences, and communities.

The Barbican is an arts, learning, and conference centre in the heart of the City of London. 

We’re passionate about showcasing the most exciting art from around the world, pushing traditional artistic boundaries and helping us understand our lives in new and unexpected ways. Each year we present thousands of different performances, events and exhibitions that entertain and inspire millions of people, create connections, provoke debate, and reflect the world we live in.

We’re rooted firmly in our neighbourhood, collaborating with local communities to create joyful celebrations of the stories and places they care about, while putting the City of London on the map as a destination for everybody. Central to our purpose is supporting emerging talent, shaping opportunities that will accelerate the next generation of creatives.

As a purpose-driven organisation, our values inform our work as well as our everyday decisions. We want to ensure that creativity, inclusion, community, and enterprise are an essential part of the Barbican. By underpinning everything we do with our organisational values, by being inclusive, connected, sustainable, and daring, and by approaching our work in a joyful way, we hope that being part of the Barbican community will become a positive, life-enhancing experience for everyone.

We’re proud to be the home of the London Symphony Orchestra, and a London base of the Royal Shakespeare Company. We regularly co-commission, produce and showcase the work of our other associates and partners including the Academy of Ancient Music, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Boy Blue, Britten Sinfonia, Cheek by Jowl, Darbar Festival, Doc'n Roll Film Festival, Drum Works, EFG London Jazz Festival, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London Palestine Film Festival, National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO)Serious, and Trafalgar Entertainment.

The City of London Corporation is the owner, founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

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The Barbican Story

Opened in 1982, the Barbican is a unique and audacious building, recognised globally as an architectural icon. The Centre was part of a visionary plan to radically transform how we experience the urban landscape. As well as our theatres, galleries, concert halls and cinemas, we are home to a large conservatory with over 1,500 species of plants and trees, a library, conference facilities, public and community spaces, restaurants, bars, and a picturesque lakeside oasis.

Our building

Our Creative Vision

Our eclectic programme features the most exciting and varied artists and companies from London, the UK, and the world, working across music, theatre, dance, the visual arts, cinema, and beyond. Through our creative vision, we aim to create better access to the arts, increase representation and ensure the Barbican uses its unique position and platform to unleash the power of creativity in everyone. 

Discover our vision

Barbican Renewal Programme

Barbican Renewal is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically reimagine what an arts centre can be. Our goal is to care for the things people love about the Barbican, while delivering improved public and creative spaces and facilities. We’re working with an award-winning design team to deliver a sustainable development that will bring underused spaces into new creative use, all without adding a single square metre of extra building. 

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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

We’re on a journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation, spurred on in part by the publication of Barbican Stories in 2021. We’re clear that we want to be a place where everyone belongs, a place of fairness and equity; and to be an organisation that reflects the diversity of our community.

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We believe that the arts have the power to inspire us to collectively imagine a better future and to unite us in tackling the climate crisis. We reguarly provide a platform for artistic work that responds to the ongoing climate crisis, to highlight its importance and encourage us to shape a positive future. We take our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment seriously and have established clear targets to achieve this.

More about sustainability

Annual Report 2022-2023

A photo along the Barbican Lakeside in bright sunshine, with a tower at the far end

Annual Report 2022-2023

Watch our Annual Report for 2022/23, featuring five staff members who reflect on a successful year and explain in their words what the Barbican means to them.