Our projects

The Art of Change

Gazing directly into the camera, Paz Errazuriz’s arresting photograph of Pilar, a cross-dresser working in an underground brothel in Chile during the 1980s.

At a time of significant national and international uncertainty, our 2018 season explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. 

We'll be presenting bold artistic responses to vital global issues including feminism, climate change and human rights, while providing a platform for voices currently underrepresented in the arts, and will feature across all our stages, galleries, screens and public spaces.

Throughout the year, we will also be producing two brand new film series for YouTube, including a short film commission with The Smalls, where each month an emerging filmmaker produces a film exploring a theme inspired by The Art of Change and also the Barbican Young Poets will write and perform a new poem every month. 

A number of projects in The Art of Change will form part of Art 50, a landmark project to commission 50 artworks that will explore what it means to be British in a post-Brexit Britain. Art 50 is a partnership between Sky Arts, the Barbican, Sage Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Storyvault Films.

The Art of Change

See how artists respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape in our 2018 season

The Art of Change Shorts

‘We will be seeking to understand how culture borrows from society – and vice versa – while ultimately asking, ‘Can the arts change the world?'‘
Louise Jeffreys, Director of Arts

Subject to Change

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photo of katie hale

Subject to Change: 'Honey' by Katie Hale

Our January poem comes from Katie Hale, as she performs her poem, 'Honey' - because what better way to interrogate a word than with a poem? Read our interview with Katie for more about her poem and how poetry can be a powerful vehicle for change.


What's on

Browse events from The Art of Change season

Across Cinema, Music, Theatre, Visual Art and our learning programmes, we’ll be presenting work that focuses on changing times – how artists have shone a spotlight on the issues of their day; changing perceptions – giving a platform to communities underrepresented in the arts world; and changing society now – how artists are dealing with current issues, seeking to engage audiences and inspiring people to take action.

See how artists respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape in our 2018 season

Browse events


Can the arts change the world?

Throughout our 2018 The Art of Change season, we’ll be considering topics including whether art and artists really can bring about change. We asked a group of artists one question: can art make a change? Interestingly, not everyone agreed…

Collection: The Art of Change

How can the arts respond to change? Discover more from our 2018 annual theme as we engage with change through regular articles, podcasts and our monthly video series throughout the year.

The Art of Change

Can the arts change the world? How does the role of artists and the arts help bring about change? How does culture borrow from society – and vice versa? We look ahead at some of the highlights from our 2018 annual theme


group of girls on a grassy hill, jumping

Girls can, do and will

Autumn 2018

During the recent world-wide women’s marches, many young girls had their first experience of campaigning and protest, some of them learning for the first time about the continued fight for gender equality, how it is relevant to their lives, and that it's not something relegated to the past.

Given this, and inspired by the Girlguiding Girls Attitudes survey, Girls can, do and will is a creative and participatory event for Brownies and Guides, who will work with a range of artists, musicians, writers, and performers at the Barbican Centre. They’ll explore how art and culture can influence, affect and enhance the cause for gender equality and talk about what matters to them. Afterwards they will be able to undertake their own social action projects for which they will receive a new Girlguiding London & South East England and Barbican badge designed by a leading artist.

In partnership with Girlguiding London and South East England.

Sky Arts Art 50

Sky Arts has launched Art 50 in partnership with the Barbican, Sage Gateshead and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, to support and commission new work that engages with ideas around our current and future national identity. Current projects supported by Art 50 include:

  • Art 50: Barbican Public Spaces Commission
  • Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)
  • Youth Manifesto Project: Imagining the arts centre of the future
  • Told By an Idiot: Let Me Play the Lion Too

Acclaimed UK theatre-makers, Told by an Idiot, use their trademark working practices to tackle the lack of diversity on stage in Britain today and affect change in the wider arts infrastructure. In an intensive two week residency in The Pit a group of twelve performers, six of whom have a disability, work with Told by an Idiot to devise a new piece of improvised performance, Let Me Play the Lion Too.

Visit Sky Arts Art 50 website

Panic! 2018

Foyer commission and talks: March–June 2018

Who makes and consumes art? Who works in the arts? How do they get in, and get on? 
These questions form the basis of a research project led by sociologists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield, investigating artistic, workforce and audience inequalities within the creative economy and arts & cultural sector. 

The Barbican is partnering with Create London and Arts Emergency to share the outcome of these investigations with the sector and wider public – through an artist commission for our public spaces and by sharing a series of concise working papers published online. 

Panic! 2018 is a continuation of a nationwide survey and events programme in 2015. 

Visit Create London website