Barbican Centre staff allege the venue is “inherently racist”

Staff at London’s Barbican Centre have alleged that the venue is “inherently racist”.

The claims arrived in a new dossier, Barbican Stories, which was released on Thursday (June 10). The dossier contains over 100 stories of “first-hand and witnessed accounts of racism and discrimination” by both current and former staff.

The authors of the report allege it came about because of the venue’s “inadequate response to the Black Lives Matter movement and protests of June 2020”. They went on to say that the venue’s “working culture is inherently racist,” and needed “radical change”.

They continued: “It is insidious and incredibly obvious at the same time. The limited internal work that has been allowed to happen has been hard fought for and driven by the lower levels of the workforce.

“This work has either been ignored, side-lined or glossed over with anti-racism statements crafted in the interest of upholding white supremacy.

“This means prioritising the institution over its staff, audiences and artists and continuing to marginalise people for profit.”

Barbican Centre Concert Hall Theatre – Credit: Alamy

Among the allegations include incidents of racism which were not investigated and staff from ethic backgrounds finding it harder to gain promotion. One worker in the dossier called the venue a “systemically racist institution”; another described it as “the whitest space I have ever been in”.

As reported on the BBC, The Barbican later responded to the claims saying it was “shocked and saddened”.

In a statement, spokesman for the venue said: “The Barbican has always strived to be an inclusive, welcoming and open organisation.

“We are shocked and saddened to hear about these allegations, and will immediately launch an independent review into them.

“Although we have not received formal complaints, all staff will be able to contribute to the independent review so that their experiences can be heard and those impacted can get the support they need. We want everyone’s voice to be listened to and respected.

“We fully recognise the pain and hurt caused by these experiences. We are committed to pursuing the ongoing programme of action which we have laid out to advance anti-racism in the organisation, and to achieve necessary change.”