this month's resident:
If we can’t dance it’s not our revolution — listen to our playlist while you read the book ✌🏽
Barbican Stories is a collection of first hand and witnessed accounts of discrimination at the Barbican Centre, written anonymously by current and former employees who have experienced racism.
Barbican Stories is a vessel that ensures that experiences which have typically been suppressed, ignored and isolated from each other are written into history. It is a testament, a radical archiving object, and a collective complaint. Barbican Stories presents a narrative of what has happened and continues to happen not just at the Barbican, but across the arts sector and in society. The book spotlights the gaslighting and institutional racism that has blown through the Barbican since they released their BLM statement in June 2020. A year on, not enough has changed.
“The Banality of Evil” is a phrase used by political theorist Hannah Arendt to describe the organised administration required to sustain morally abhorrent systems and campaigns.
The Barbican is a vessel run with the energy of colonial administrators.
This administration goes by unquestioned and without major fanfare. It takes place in systems, emails, forms, and budgets - all of which make evil possible. This evil is not delivered in coffins or written in BLOOD, it is not accompanied by a manifesto that outlines radical and scary political views. It is a method that wears you down, it dissolves individual responsibility ("I'm just doing my job!")and makes it possible to discriminate and abuse at no consequence. It is out-of-office replies that leave you on hold for weeks and “sorry, it’s not in our policy!”. It is a tired worker not having enough time to review your case properly and it is walls of text in response to simple questions.
In the spirit of radical transparency and to further enhance the public’s and the Barbican’s understanding of the banality of evil, we invite Barbican staff, partners, audiences and artists to leak the boring admin you’ve had to do with the Barbican.
These documents will go to a public archive and will also help inform the timeline extension for the second print run of Barbican Stories. We’ll redact and anonymise any personal information, but feel free to do this yourself before submitting.
Collective power works
Since the book’s publication in June 2021, the Barbican’s Managing Director (THE big boss) Sir Nicholas Kenyon has resigned from the Barbican. But this is not enough. It has never been about one person. The work is not done (especially when there is still no accountability). This is an institutional and sector-wide issue.
Many people from other sectors and cultural institutions have been in touch with us about the book and campaign. We are now embarking on a process of collective reflection and consolidation of knowledge about how Barbican Stories was put together. If you are someone who would like to make your own book and have particular questions about the project that you’d like us to think towards whilst consolidating this knowledge, submit your questions here.
We will share a finished HOW TO guide and FAQ publicly. It may be in the form of a giant poster that we’ll paste onto the walls of the worst arts organisations, it may be one hundred flyers left in the middle of a theatre, it may be a password-protected site, a secret Instagram, a treasure hunt on Tik Tok or snail mail. It may be geocached.
In any case, it will be available for all those who want to make a book... we’ll let you know when!
🙏🏽 Second Print Run
We are preparing for the second run of Barbican Stories. This new print run will be distributed to archives, public records, and libraries in London, the UK, and internationally (with each venue receiving 1-2 copies).
In this new edition, we will extend the timeline to capture what has happened since the release of the book and will include new stories, by current and former employees of the Barbican who have come across the project and want to contribute to the record.
📣 Share your stories
If you are someone who has experienced racism + are a current or former employee / associated artist / partner of the Barbican Centre and would like to share your story in the next edition of the book, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
📚 Calling all public records + archives + libraries
If you know a public record, library or archive that you think should be considered for this let us know, or if you run or are the administrator of a public record, archive or library that would like to house Barbican Stories please fill in the form here: https://forms.gle/z6gu26HA8pbY9ACb6
What can you do?
Stop saying you are powerless. We all feel lost and frustrated, that’s not a reason to continue tolerating racism and discrimination from institutions and individuals. Get off the fence and join us. ❌
Money helps 💰 but doing the work to be anti-racist is even better.
We are currently taking donations to cover various costs from the second run of the book as well as counseling for all those involved in the making of the book — you can donate here:
We welcome donations from everyone, but particularly from people who have not experienced racism.