An update on our work with the Barbican

Posted: July 28, 2023

On June 21st, we were saddened to discover RESOLVE Collective withdrew their exhibition, them’s the breaks, from The Curve in response to an act of censorship by Barbican staff towards the Palestinian radio station Radio AlHara, and experiencing what they described as their ‘disappointment at a number of hostile encounters’ with Front of House staff at the Barbican.

You can read RESOLVE’s announcement “We Out” here, and the Barbican apology here.

As the exhibition next in The Curve, we felt it important to acknowledge and respond here.

As a community of people living with brain injury, we understand the devastating impact of discrimination in our society. Many of our members experience prejudice as a result of multiple intersections of their identities – including disability, race, gender, sexuality, religion, class. Since June 21st, we have been facilitating conversations to gather feedback from our Steering Group, wider community of members, staff and volunteers to hear their personal responses to this issue.

In 2019 we entered into a pilot partnership with the Barbican as a “Community Collaborator”, a relationship based on mutual respect, learning and two-way exchange. Working with the Communities team we have developed a close relationship of trust with their staff, who have demonstrated the utmost respect for our members as artists and decision-makers throughout this process. Our experience has been one of collaboration, coproduction and care for our members and artists – otherwise, we would not be here today.

We also know that that Barbican requires institutional change to improve its record on inclusivity of diverse people and voices in its programme. The inclusion of a temporary ramp in this exhibition is part of this call to action, and we will continue to urge the Barbican to ensure better access to The Curve and venue as a whole. Our EDI group, chaired by our CEO, will continue to hold the Barbican to account for this progress, requiring regular updates on progress and evidence of its development of anti-racism policies and training since the release of Barbican Stories as a requirement of our continued partnership.

EDI Updates | Barbican

To ensure the fair treatment of our community in The Curve, the Barbican committed to providing brain injury awareness training for the Front of House team and wider staff working during the exhibition, facilitated by our expert staff and members. Alongside this they have committed to a staff member of the Creative Collaboration team onsite at all times during the exhibition to offer support and ensure any issues are addressed immediately.

We want this exhibition to be part of a positive movement for change at the Barbican, and will continue to insist that members of our diverse community – who all live with disability as a result of brain injury,  their families, support networks, and the wider Barbican audience – are treated with respect and dignity in the space.

Anna McEwen, CEO, Headway East London

If you would like to contact Headway East London for further information, please email: Anna.McEwen@headwayeastlondon.org.

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