What we do
We’re 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.
Our eclectic programme features the most exciting performers and artists in music, theatre, dance, the visual arts, cinema, and beyond. We work with artists at every stage of their career, supporting and fostering opportunities for ground-breaking new talent as well as promoting the work of world-class artists.
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.
We have plans to combine our exceptional arts programme with a sector-leading education programme for young people; provide the resources needed to support creative enterprises to flourish from within our building; and take artists on a journey from studio space to main stage, creating a talent pipeline that will help produce the next generation of UK artists.
Our mission is to
- inspire people to discover and love the arts
- work with outstanding artists to create an innovative international programme that crosses art forms
- celebrate the artists of today and invest in those of tomorrow
Our vision of arts without boundaries means that, in line with the Barbican and City of London Corporation’s diversity and inclusion plan, we believe that the work we present on our stages, in our galleries and on our screens should represent the widest possible range of human experience across a wide diversity of age, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality and gender.
One of our core values is to be brave and sometimes provocative. Our programme is international in scope and, as an organisation that enables artists to showcase their work, we believe it’s our responsibility to sometimes programme work that responds to our fast changing world, that engages in the debates that define our age and that is relevant to the issues that affect people’s lives.
We’re proud of our international outlook but recognise this can occasionally put us at the centre of difficult, nuanced and sometimes controversial debates. As a recipient of public funding, we see the Barbican as a civic space that can foster this kind of discussion and debate. Our aim is to strike a balance between being confident in the work we present but also being open to engaging in discussion.
Our approach to programming controversial work
All work the Barbican presents is programmed in the context of our international, cross-arts programme. We do not set out to offend or provoke controversy, however we do recognise sometimes individuals and/or communities may find some of the work we present provocative.
In line with What Next’s? arts sector guidance on meeting ethical and reputational challenges, when making a decision whether to programme a potentially controversial artwork we use the following criteria:
- Is the decision we’re making consistent with our vision, mission, guiding principles and ethical policy?
- Does the work contribute to our international, cross-arts programme?
- Have we undertaken a risk assessment and sufficiently weighed up the risks and benefits?
- Has the course of action been discussed internally to an appropriate extent?
- Have we done enough research and taken the necessary advice from relevant experts and communities outside the organisation?
- Has the Barbican’s Board and/or Barbican Board Risk Sub-Committee been informed where appropriate?
- Is the decision publicly defensible and do we have a clear articulation for the reasons for the decision being made and the process used for reaching this conclusion?
Programming decisions will be based on the criteria set out above, with the final decision made as per the below:
- For work where risk is rated as Minor the decision whether to programme will be made by the Head of the relevant artform.
- For work where risk is rated as Serious the decision whether to programme will be made by the Director of Arts in consultation with the Head of the relevant artform.
- For work where risk is rated as Major the decision whether to programme will be made by the Managing Director in consultation with the Head of the relevant artform and the Director of Arts.
- For work where risk is rated as Extreme the decision whether to programme will be made by the Managing Director in consultation with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Barbican Board, the Head of the relevant artform and the Director of Arts.
In cases where risk is rated as Major or Extreme, the Town Clerk of the City of London Corporation will be informed. The City of London Police will also be informed if relevant.
Our political position and relationship with artists
As a department of the City of London Corporation the Barbican is apolitical. Our aim is to give the best artists from around the world a platform to showcase their work.
While apolitical, the Barbican does not shy away from presenting work that invites discussion and debate. However, all artists/organisations who appear in the Barbican programme are there as a result of their exceptional artistic work and our relationship with them does not extend to political issues, or imply sympathy with their personal views or those of anyone associated with them.
Alongside the arts and learning events that the Barbican programmes, the Barbican’s artistic venues are available for hire by third party promoters. In hiring out our spaces we aim to work with promoters and organisations that share our values and artistic ambitions. While we are selective about the projects we can accommodate, including where appropriate assessing using our criteria for programming potentially controversial work, we cannot be held fully accountable for the artistic content of these events. We identify the promoter of all events on the relevant event page of the Barbican website and direct customer comments back to them.
The Barbican regularly hosts business events across our spaces, the income from which directly supports the Barbican’s arts and learning programme. These are private and corporate events and do not form part of our public programme. While we are not responsible for the business practices of any organisation that hires our spaces, we undertake a risk assessment procedure to ensure any risk these events may cause to the City of London Corporation’s and the Barbican’s reputations, policies, and working practices are mitigated and/or prevented.
All staff have an obligation to adhere to and represent the Barbican’s vision and principles as set out in this document. Our continued success relies on the trust and confidence of the public and therefore all Barbican staff are expected to uphold the highest standards of personal conduct and integrity.
As a department of the City of London Corporation, Barbican employees must adhere to the City of London’s employee Code of Conduct. This incorporates requirements to abide by City of London financial procedures, restrictions on receiving hospitality/gifts and anti-corruption/anti-bribery measures.
The Code also includes a requirement for all Barbican staff to uphold the Nolan Principles on standards in public life which are:
Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
Holders of public office should be truthful.
Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
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 company with charitable purposes, and its objectives are: To foster and promote the maintenance, improvement, and development of artistic taste and the knowledge, understanding, education, and appreciation of the arts amongst the inhabitants of the City and generally. 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 Managing Director and the Chairman 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 Centre Trust has also agreed to follow the Approach to Fundraising and Gift Acceptance Process guidance and principles set out in this policy in support of their charitable purposes.
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.
When the Barbican and the Barbican Centre Trust seek the support of external organisations and individuals to work together to help achieve our respective goals we each aim to ensure that:
- We have honest relationships with our donors.
- We retain our independence and avoid over-reliance on one or more key donors.
- We have consistent processes for making decisions about who we accept money from.
- We seek to be as cost effective as possible in developing sustainable fundraising streams.
The Barbican’s Development team are members of the Institute of Fundraising and have agreed to adhere to the Fundraising Regulator’s Codes of Practice to ensure best practice, transparency and accountability. The Barbican Centre Trust is registered with the Fundraising Regulator.
Accepting grants, donations and sponsorship can bring with it an element of risk. When deciding whether to accept a donation the Barbican and the Barbican Centre Trust each have a duty to:
- weigh the benefits of the donations against the level of risk this will or might bring (and to identify if and how risks might be mitigated).
- demonstrate that they have acted in the best interests, as relevant, of the Barbican Centre Trust (and its beneficiaries in furtherance of its charitable purposes for the public benefit) or the Barbican (and, the City of London, in provision of a public service).
- demonstrate that the association with any particular donor does not unduly compromise each organisation in any way, and further the Barbican’s position and artistic integrity, harm its reputation or put future funding at significant risk.
The main criteria for accepting partnerships or donations will be where there are grounds for believing that it will benefit the Barbican’s mission. The Barbican and Barbican Centre Trust will not accept funding where the donation:
- was known to be associated with criminal sources.
- would help further a donor’s personal or business objectives when these are in conflict with the objectives of the Barbican or the Barbican Centre Trust.
- would lead to long-term and / or irreparable decline in support of the Barbican or in the resources available to fund our work.
- would cause long-term and / or irreparable damage our respective reputations.
We assess potential donations to ensure they meet our standards for accepting such gifts and to ensure they do not conflict the values stated above, or otherwise would cause us to breach any legal obligations. This process starts with an informal review, moving into formal review and / or escalation for those deemed at higher risk, using a standardised assessment criteria. For those gifts under formal review and rated as Serious, Major or Extreme, a Gift Advisory Committee will be formed from key personnel which shall include the Barbican’s Chief Operating & Financial Officer (CO&FO) (and may include the Chairman of the Barbican Centre Trust) in order to make a recommendation about whether the gift should be accepted or not.
Taking into account the recommendation made by the Gift Advisory Committee a final decision on Major and Extreme risk-rated gifts to the Barbican will be made as per the below:
- the Managing Director (MD) in the case of gifts of up to £1,000,000 per annum in consultation with the Chair of the Barbican Centre Trust.
- the Managing Director in consultation with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Barbican Centre Board and the Chair of the Barbican Centre Trust for gifts £1,000,001+ per annum
Accepting or otherwise gifts rated as Serious will be made by the Chief Operating & Financial Officer in consultation with the Head of Development, following consultation with other key colleagues, as deemed necessary. Accepting or otherwise gifts rated Minor will be made by the Head of Development.
Individuals involved in making any decision will be asked to declare any conflicts of interest that might prevent them from making an unbiased and objective assessment of the gift under review. Any individual deemed too closely connected to the donor or donation under review will be excluded from the advisory and decision-making process and an alternative individual approached.
The Gift Advisory Committee will meet in person or by secure correspondence to consider the matters referred to it. Minutes will be kept of its discussions and key points from the minutes which inform the decision-makers in taking their decisions (as noted above) will be presented to next subsequent meeting of the Barbican Centre Trust and Board, as relevant, together with the research material and reports and supporting documents, as required.