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About us

Purpose and Governance

Sculpture Court CREDIT Photo by Dion Barrett

The Barbican holds a special position as the arts centre located within the City of London, as well as in the national and international landscape in which we operate. 

We are in an important position of trust – with our audiences, with artists and companies we work with, local communities, donors, partners, sponsors, and funders. And of course, with our Barbican Team who welcome audiences and artists into our spaces every day.

We are governed by the Barbican Centre Board – a committee of the City of London Corporation, our founder and principal funder. At all times we aim to work in accordance with our purpose and values, using our spaces and resources for public benefit.

At the Barbican everybody is welcome, and should be treated equitably, with honesty and respect. We expect everybody – whether working, visiting, or performing – to abide by our Zero Tolerance Statement. Additionally, Barbican staff must adhere to the City of London’s Code of Conduct.

Barbican Centre Foyer CREDIT Photo by Dion Barrett

Our purpose and values

Our purpose and values expresses why we do what we do. All of our activities are designed to help deliver our purpose:

- We are London’s Creative Catalyst for arts, curiosity and enterprise.

- We spark creative possibilities and transformation for artists, audiences and communities – to inspire, connect and provoke debate.

- We are the place to be in this destination city, where everyone is welcome. Our impact is felt far outside our walls and ripples beyond the experiences we offer - locally, nationally and internationally.

Our values express how we work. We aim to live our values every day:

Inclusive, Sustainable, Connected, Daring, Joyful

Our curated programme

We aim to provide an enriching, dynamic, relevant, and sometimes provocative artistic programme. We design our programme to reflect and attract an audience that represents the full diversity of London. We also aim to host the broadest range of artists and thinkers, representing the widest possible variety of world views and human experiences. 

Our programme is carefully curated to achieve these objectives, and we collaborate with thousands of different artistic partners – individuals and organisations – every year. We constantly receive more proposals and ideas than we are able to host, but we aim to balance our programme across each year, prioritised through the lens of our Audience Strategy.

We do not shy away from topics that may be sensitive or controversial; indeed, platforming this kind of work is essential to our purpose. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that when we present work on such topics, we do so with necessary care and preparation so that everybody – artists, audiences and our staff – feels welcome and is safe, and so that these events have the best chance of building understanding, enabling constructive debate, countering the forces of polarisation, inspiring change and ultimately bringing communities together.

We strongly believe in the importance of protecting and maintaining artistic freedom and freedom of expression. Everybody who appears at the Barbican is here because of their artistic work and because we believe they will interest and appeal to audiences. Our relationship with them does not mean we support their personal or political views, but we do support their right to express them, in the interests of furthering our purpose. Although we are governed by the City of London Corporation, all decisions around our artistic programme are taken by the Barbican independently.

As well as our artistic programme, we regularly host conferences, graduations, meetings and other business and social events in our venues, the income from which directly supports our arts and learning activities. These are private and corporate events that do not form part of our public programme.

We do not tolerate hate speech, discrimination or harassment and expect everybody, whether working here or visiting, to act in line with our Zero Tolerance Statement, and will take action if anybody does not – including potentially by not working with them again.

Lakeside Terrace CREDIT Photo by Max Colson

Our political position

In line with our purpose and values we have, and are committed to maintaining, a varied and daring events programme – one which inspires, connects and provokes debate.

Artists play a crucial role in reflecting, commenting on and responding to the issues of the day, including subjects that are urgent, complex or divisive. Cultural institutions such as the Barbican have a responsibility to provide artists – particularly those who may have been marginalised – with a platform to do so.

Our programming therefore often deals with political and social topics, and we aim to host the broadest and most diverse range of artists and thinkers, representing the widest possible range of world views and human experiences. To enable this, and also because we are a publicly funded arts organisation, all of our actions and statements are grounded in our purpose, values and programme. Although we may all have individual views, as an organisation we do not campaign on global or party-political issues.

Fundraising and gift acceptance

The Barbican delivers its world-class arts and learning programme through a mixed-funding model consisting of core support from the City of London Corporation which is the Barbican’s principal funder; revenue generated from audience attendances; commercial income from sales, events etc.; as well as raised income including from grants, donations, sponsorship and membership income from individuals and organisations.

The Barbican is supported by the Barbican Centre Trust Limited, a charity registered in England and Wales (Charity No. 294282; Company No. 01962950). The Trust is a separate entity with charitable purposes, and its objectives are:  To support, promote and encourage people in London, the United Kingdom and globally to discover and appreciate the arts through: (i) artistic, cultural and educational activities generally; (ii) artistic, cultural and educational programmes and activities run by the Barbican Centre; and (iii) the maintenance and development of the Barbican Centre as a centre of the arts, culture and education, in each case to the extent that such support, promotion and encouragement is of a charitable nature. In support of those objects, the Trustees are dedicated to raising funds to support the Barbican’s world-class arts and creative learning programmes.

The Barbican and the Barbican Centre Trust are separate legal entities, and while the Trust Board includes two ex officio Trustees (the CEO and the Chair of the Barbican Centre Board), elected Members and employees of the City of London Corporation may not form the majority on the Trustees. The Trust has no employees and the Barbican Centre provides support to the work of the Trust. 

The Barbican recognises that individuals, the grant making community and private sector businesses have an important role to play in advancing our vision and mission. Funds raised by the Barbican and the Barbican Centre Trust provide vital support towards these goals, and we are grateful to those who contribute to making the Barbican’s programmes possible.

Modern slavery

Read the City of London Corporation's Modern Slavery Statement.