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Barbican announces new digital content during temporary closure

Image of the Barbican Lakeside terrace in early evening with lights glowing

The Barbican today announces new digital content available for everyone to read, watch and listen to for free. All content is available at and via the Barbican’s social channels.

Highlights include:

  • A podcast series with Stephen Fry on music, art, isolation, mental health and the healing power of art, starting on 6 May
  • Ballet Black’s Ingoma (2019), co-commissioned and filmed at the Barbican, available on YouTube from 3 May
  • Two short films commissioned for the cancelled The Lark Ascending: People, Music, Landscape concert, featuring new sound recordings and compositions by artist and musician Rob St John and readings from author Richard King
  • A live discussion between filmmaker Kitty Green, Birds Eye View director Mia Bays and Barbican curator Sonia Zadurian about The Assistant on 6 May
  • A Q&A with Barbican Visual Arts Curator Alona Pardo about the exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography on 7 May

Podcasts can be accessed from the Read, Watch & Listen page or by subscribing to the Barbican’s Nothing Concrete podcast via Acast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Since the Centre’s temporary closure on Tuesday 17 March, the Read, Watch &  Listen section of the Barbican’s website has seen an increase of 350% in visitors, compared to the same time last year, with numbers of new visitors to the site up by 390%.

Inspired by the Barbican’s international arts programme, the curated mix of podcasts, playlists, films, videos, talks and articles enables audiences to continue to enjoy the Centre’s rich and varied programme.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican said: “During these difficult times, we’re continuing to focus on connecting audiences with the arts and with each other. On our website and social channels we’re offering a uniquely Barbican mix of high-quality digital content across all artforms. From videos and images to podcasts, articles and talks from some of the amazing artists who regularly appear in our programme, we’re bringing the arts that audiences love direct to their homes. We hope there’s something for everyone, whatever their interests. The big increase in traffic to our website since we closed our doors on 17 March shows that in these uncertain and worrying times, the arts continue to inspire, enlighten and comfort.”

Below you can find a selection of the content divided into two sections: Just announced, and Already available.

Just announced

Writer, actor, comedian and campaigner Stephen Fry joins journalist Chris Gunness for a new four-part series on the Nothing Concrete podcast. The conversations begin on Wednesday 6 May and focus on music, art, isolation, mental health and the healing power of art – using composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s revelatory Heiligenstadt Testament as a springboard. Heiligenstadt Testament is a letter written by Beethoven to his brothers, in which he reflects his despair over his increasing deafness and his contemplation of suicide. The podcast episodes will be released each Wednesday throughout May. Part of the Barbican’s Inside Out season, the podcast coincides with National Mental Health Awareness Week at the end of May, and marks Beethoven’s 250th anniversary this year.

Also on 6 May at 12pm, Barbican Cinema Curator Sonia Zadurian introduces a live discussion between filmmaker Kitty Green and Birds Eye View director Mia Bays, about the release of The Assistant. Inspired by real-life events, The Assistant follows an ambitious young woman working for a powerful film producer over the course of one day that may just define her future. The film is a timely exploration into today’s dysfunctional workplaces. The Assistant is available to watch on digital platforms from Friday 1 May. Join the live discussion event here.

On Thursday 7 May, Barbican Art Gallery curator Alona Pardo will answer questions about the current exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. Everyone is invited to submit questions on the Barbican Twitter @BarbicanCentre, with the Q&A starting at 2pm on Sunday 7 May. #Masculinities

Ballet Black’s Ingoma (2019), co-commissioned and filmed at the Barbican is available via their website from Sunday 3 May for one week. Choreographer Mthuthuzeli November was subsequently nominated for an Olivier and National Dance Award after the world premiere at the Barbican. #BBonFilm

From 5-19 May, the Barbican joins its Community Collaborator Headway East London for their #HomeNotAlone campaign, highlighting the creative work that the charity does with survivors of brain injury and the exceptional artists they have as members. Content will be phased across the duration of the campaign and will include a long-read essay about the partnership with Headway East London, as well as an Instagram take-over by one of Headway East London’s members. The Barbican has also recently released an online printing workshop run by Headway East London member, Billy Mann, based on the Art Gallery exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. The workshop can be watched online here.

Already available

Below you can find information and links to content that is already available on Read, Watch & Listen, divided by artforms.

Visual Arts

As part of the public programme for the exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (2020), the Barbican hosted talks with and about acclaimed photographers. Two of these are now available on Mixcloud: In Conversation: Catherine Opie and Jonathan D. Katz and Remembering Photographer Peter Hujar with Stephen Koch.

Heavy handed, we crush the moment, an immersive performance project presented by Last Yearz Interesting Negro (Jamila Johnson-Small) in 2019 can now be viewed online, accompanied by a Q&A with Johnson-Small and Barbican curator Lotte Johnson. This performance commission was a contemporary response to the Barbican exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art.

Past Barbican exhibitions are celebrated online through a range of podcasts, long-reads and videos: Women in the Weimar Republic, Art for all: ¡30–30! in Mexico City and Rebuilding Vienna's Cabaret Fledermaus discuss some of the cities featured in Barbican’s 2019 exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art. Artist Trevor Paglen explores the themes of his 2019 Curve commission From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly'. Centring on the Barbican’s retrospective Lee Krasner: Living Colour (2019), curator, writer and art historian Katy Hessel from The Great Women Artists discusses the legacy of Lee Krasner with contemporary artists Flora Yukhnovich and Chantal Joffe. Other published long-reads include Daria Martin on her Curve exhibition Tonight the World (2019), a video discussion on the 2018 exhibition Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde, as well as an in-depth look at some of the couples featured in the exhibition - Emilie Flöge & Gustav Klimt, Camille Claudel & Auguste Rodin and Jean Arp & Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Following the Barbican’s major 2017 show Basquiat: Boom For Real, Basquiat enthusiasts can view a 360 video tour of the acclaimed exhibition. Tim Lawrence’s article Basquiat and Downtown, on the 1970s and 80s New York music scene, is also available to read.

Barbican exhibition-inspired playlists such as Masculinities and Basquiat and hip hop can be accessed on the Barbican’s Spotify channel.


The Lark Ascending: People, Music, Landscape was a collaborative concert scheduled to take place at the Barbican on 24 March and subsequently cancelled. Two short films that were commissioned for the concert – featuring new sound recordings and compositions by artist and musician Rob St John and readings from author Richard King – are now available to watch on the Barbican’s website. The sound recordings include larks, curlews, lapwings, oystercatchers, swifts, fence wires bowing in the wind, underwater photosynthesis, tank fire heard through metal warning signs, decaying oceanic communication cables, creaking sea ice, water running through plant stems, the resonance of underground bunkers and boreholes, electromagnetic fields, upland springs and more.

A long-read article by Jon Dale delves into the history of ambient music, its influence on mainstream music and its resurgence in recent years. It features illustrations by Aleesha Nandhra, a mix by Tomoko Sauvage, and a playlist featuring songs and musicians mentioned in the text. Similarly, a long-read article by Tokyo-based writer Ian F Martin explores the history of experimental music scenes in Japan, and is published alongside a Barbican curated Spotify playlist, re-releases of three podcasts with Japanese Music fans Howard Williams (Japan Blues), Yosuke Kitazawa (from Light in the Attic Records) and Ian F Martin (author of Quit Your Band), and illustrations by Aleesha Nandhra.

In the Nothing Concrete podcast’s Sound Unbound series, presenter Josie Long talks to creative minds about the music that moves them, with some help from conductor Ben Gernon. Guests include Steve Reich, Karine Polwart, Ken Loach, Jayde Adams, James R Gaines, and Ballet Black’s Cassa Pancho. The Composer Focus series takes listeners on a journey through the life and music of five different composers, with five familiar voices as our guides: Countertenor Iestyn Davies on Handel, baritone Roderick Williams on Britten, conductor Sir Antonio Pappano on Mahler, violinist Richard Tognetti on Mozart and conductor Sakari Oramo on Sibelius. In addition, the Barbican Team has curated Spotify playlists with introductions to composers Stravinsky and Mahler, minimalism and music for piano.

The Barbican’s family of orchestras can be experienced online in a variety of ways: The London Symphony Orchestra streams concerts every Thursday and Sunday, the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s past concerts can be listened to on BBC Sounds for 30 days after their original broadcast date on BBC Radio 3, Britten Sinfonia shares behind the scenes interviews and performances, and the Academy of Ancient Music streams concerts every Sunday.


The Barbican Cinema team has curated and created film content for audiences to explore and enjoy, from Curator’s Picks, live filmmaker discussions with Barbican curators, and treasures from the archive. In the week of 4 May, Gali Gold, Head of Barbican Cinema, chooses five films that put the concept of ‘home’ – and its complex meanings – at the forefront. When people across the world are being asked to stay indoors, the public is reminded of the fact that ‘home’ has always been both a physical place and a powerful symbol of identity, status and relationships. The film picks feature Flag Wars, Detained, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, No Home Movie, and The Queen of Versailles. Previous Curator’s Picks feature LGBTQ+ comedies chosen by Alex Davidson, Before the Blockbuster picks by Sonia Zadurian, Susie Evans’ highlights of the best in classic and contemporary cinema for Kids under 5; and Tamara Anderson’s picks of animated short films. (Please note that subscription fees apply for selected streaming platforms.)

On the Nothing Concrete podcast, journalist Chris Gunness looks back at the Barbican’s Borders and Boundaries season – a cinematic gaze on borders the world over – that took place in November 2019 to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Further talks from our cinema archive include producer Ben Eshmade speaking to French filmmaker Olivier Assayas in May 2015, Oscar-winning actor Regina King on If Beale Street Could Talk (February 2018) and director Raoul Peck about I Am Not Your Negro, his 2016 documentary about writer and activist James Baldwin. Recently, Barbican cinema curator Alex Davidson interviewed Levan Akin, the writer & director of And Then We Danced (Sweden, Georgia & France, 2019) as part of the #PeccadilloSofaClub, a new series of LGBTQ+ films screening every Thursday.

Theatre and Dance
On the Barbican’s Nothing Concrete podcast, Chris Gunness speaks to Belarus Free Theatre co-Artistic Director Natalia Kaliada about Dogs of Europe (2020). Dogs of Europe was recently performed in a secret location in Minsk ahead of its originally scheduled world premiere at the Barbican. Listen here.

Michael Clark Company’s Olivier Award-nominated to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll . . . song. (2016), filmed at the Barbican in 2017 is currently on BBC iPlayer for two months (from Thursday 9 April).

Boy Blue’s Emancipation of Expressionism (2013), directed by Danny Boyle and filmed at the Barbican (2017) and R.E.B.E.L (2018) filmed at MC Motors in Dalston, east London are both available on YouTube. The company has just launched new Emancipation of Expressionism GCSE resources to support students and teachers, available from the company’s website.

Cheek by Jowl’s The Winter’s Tale (filmed at the Barbican in 2017) and Measure for Measure (filmed at the Barbican in 2015) are both available on YouTube and until Monday 25 May. Measure for Measure is performed in Russian with English subtitles, and The Winter’s Tale is performed in English with Spanish, French and English subtitles available. 

Availability of the BBC film of Breach’s It’s True, It’s True, It’s True: Artemisia on Trial, has been extended to Sunday 17 May. The theatrical production was scheduled to play in The Pit but was cancelled due to the closure.


Barbican Temporary Closure Information

The Barbican is temporarily closed until further notice due to UK Government advice on Coronavirus/Covid-19. All events taking place until Tuesday 30 June 2020 have now been cancelled or postponed. Everyone who has booked a ticket for a Barbican event during this period is eligible for a full refund. Information on how to claim this is published here. Anyone who has tickets up until the end of June has been contacted by the Box Office.

The Barbican is encouraging audiences to make a donation so it can keep investing in the artists and organisations with whom it works. Audiences are also being asked to consider donating to the Centre’s Resident and Associate companies to support them through these difficult times.