Our projects

The Art of Change

Shirley Chisholm

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 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

Projects & Initiatives

Barking Nuns

Marking the 100 year anniversary of suffrage and the Representation of the People Act in 1918, the residency celebrated the rich feminist heritage of Barking and Dagenham, exploring the female heroes that have come to define the borough’s past and present - and boldly imagining how its young people will go on to define its future and become the change makers of tomorrow.

Working with different classes from Sydney Russell School for a whole academic year, artists/companies including leading theatre company Complicite, beatboxer Bellatrix and award-winning filmmaker Eelyn Lee, worked with students and teaching staff at the school to deliver an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of creative projects.

Read more

Girls can, do and will

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 was a creative and participatory event for Brownies and Guides, who worked with a range of artists, musicians, writers, and performers at the Barbican Centre. They explored how art and culture can influence, affect and enhance the cause for gender equality and talk about what matters to them. Afterwards they undertook their own social action projects and received a new Girlguiding London & South East England and Barbican badge designed by a leading artist.

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Panic! It's an Arts Emergency

Who makes and consumes art? Who works in the arts? How do they get in, and get on? 
 
These questions formed 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 partnered 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 was a continuation of a nationwide survey and events programme in 2015. 

Read the Panic! report

Tuning into Change

A Youth Manifesto for the Arts

42 young creatives from London, Los Angeles, Gateshead, Scotland and Bristol have created Tuning into Change: A Youth Manifesto for the Arts. 

A Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning project, the Manifesto was launched on 4 May at an open rehearsal in the Barbican featuring world-renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2018 Barbican residency. 

Tuning into Change brought young creatives together at workshops over a period of six months to determine what the arts can offer young people and the role that young artists can play to create lasting change in our uncertain world. The young people's 14-point Manifesto and accompanying 89 page publication explores how young people can effect change at different levels, from the individual to the global across society through the arts.

Download the Manifesto

Sky Arts Art 50

Sky Arts 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: a two-week residency in The Pit where twelve performers, six of whom had a disability, devised a new piece of performance tackling the lack of diversity on the stage. 
Visit Sky Arts Art 50 website