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Barbican welcomes External Review and sets out new appointments to drive change

  • Barbican welcomes External Review into staff experiences of racism
  • Nina Bhagwat announced to join organisation as Interim Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion from August 2021
  • Sandeep Dwesar and Will Gompertz to share leadership as Joint Interim Managing Directors from September 2021
  • Barbican sets out anti-racism action plan for cultural change

The City of London Corporation, the founder, principal funder and employer of the Barbican, has announced that Lewis Silkin LLP will conduct an external review into staff experiences of racism at the Barbican, as promised in June. The leading employment and equalities law specialists will support a highly experienced and respected Queen’s Counsel who will undertake the review, and details of this appointment will be announced in due course. You can read the full press release here.

It is announced today that Nina Bhagwat will join the Barbican’s senior leadership team from August as Interim Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to drive the Barbican's anti-racism work, and to ensure the Barbican’s Inclusion agenda progresses at pace. Nina has a wealth of experience in diversity and inclusion roles throughout the creative sector, most recently as Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Warner Music UK, and prior to this as Off Screen Diversity Executive for Channel 4's Creative Diversity team. The role will be recruited for on a permanent basis in the coming months.  

When Sir Nicholas Kenyon steps down as managing director in September, the City of London Corporation has asked Director of Arts and Learning Will Gompertz and Chief Operating and Financial Officer Sandeep Dwesar to share leadership as joint interim managing directors. They will lead a programme of cultural change, including taking steps towards the Barbican’s anti-racism objectives.

They are already leading on the Barbican’s anti-racism action plan, to which all staff were invited to contribute before it was approved by the Barbican Board, which includes providing individual and group support structures and networks for staff who have been affected by racism in the organisation; reviewing recruitment processes; setting inclusivity targets for ethnicity, gender and other protected characteristics; further investing in training and development; creating more robust policies and practices for reporting both microaggressions and racism; updating the Barbican’s Equality and Inclusion strategy; and developing new ways of working to ensure the casual staff are part of the Barbican’s community.

Nicholas Kenyon said:
'We very much welcome the External Review into staff experiences of racism at the Barbican. The Barbican must be a place where everyone feels safe to work free from racism or discrimination and we will fully support both the review process and the implementation of recommendations for change. We are grateful to our Board and the City of London Corporation for their work on this so far.

‘I’m delighted to welcome Nina Bhagwat to the Barbican, who brings significant experience of leading, advocating and delivering change in diversity, equity and inclusion in the cultural sector. I look forward to working with her.

‘As I leave the Barbican in September, I am very pleased that Sandeep Dwesar and Will Gompertz will share the post of interim managing director to continue the programme of change with energy and continuity. It’s been a huge privilege to be part of the Barbican community for the past 14 years and I wish Sandeep and Will the very best.’

Sandeep Dwesar and Will Gompertz said:
'The Barbican is an ever-evolving international arts and learning centre with contemporary artists and a broad range of audiences at its heart. We are delighted that from September we will be leading the Barbican through its next phase, during which we will drive the steps agreed in our current action plan to ensure that the Centre can move forward confidently, inclusively and with a renewed focus. Our immediate priority is those colleagues who have suffered racism from within the organisation, and advancing our anti-racism action plan. We are really looking forward to working with Nina Bhagwat who will bring a huge wealth of expertise and creativity to the Barbican as we progress our diversity agenda at pace.’

Nina Bhagwat said:
I'm excited to be joining the Barbican at such a key moment in time for the organisation and the Arts, where culture is placed at the heart of our post-Covid recovery. It's significant to note that an organisation with the impact and influence of the Barbican are now placing inclusivity and accessibility centre-stage. The team's commitment to bringing about the necessary meaningful change to create a truly inclusive culture, where all talent can flourish, is clear, and I am delighted to be part of this pivotal moment.’