Just in: Barbican hires BBC seat-warmer

Just in: Barbican hires BBC seat-warmer


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2021

The Barbican Centre has appointed Will Gompertz, the BBC’s barely visible arts editor, to the new post of Director of Arts and Learning.

This will place Gompertz. 55, in pole position to succeed Nick Kenyon, 70, as head of the Centre.

The news will be welcomed by the BBC as a saving on a wholly redundant position.

Gompertz says: I am absolutely delighted to be joining the Barbican as its Director of Arts and Learning after eleven very happy years as the BBC’s Arts Editor. I look forward to leading the superb art form and creative learning teams, at this hugely significant time for both the institution and the broad audiences it serves. As we all adjust to the major cultural, ecological, scientific, technological and political changes that are defining the early decades of the 21st century, the arts in general, and the Barbican in particular, have a vital role in helping shape our future, providing an inclusive platform for discovery and discussion, and a diverse environment for ideas and exchange. I am greatly looking forward to playing a part in the next chapter of the Barbican’s life as one of the world’s leading arts centres.



  • Brian says:

    I’ve always enjoyed his presence on the BBC. Seen from here in the U.S. he personifies the informed if vaguely eccentric and tousled British arts lover in his reports. He’s done some occasionally harder-edged interviews with celebrities too – none of the fawning silliness you usually see on TV. Best of luck to him.

  • erich says:

    Obviously only bald men could succeed Kenyon.

  • V.Lind says:

    I seem to see plenty of his work, and presumably as Arts Editor he has many behind-the-scenes roles — assigning stories, etc.

    But if he has assigned the death of Levine, I have yet to find it. After first reading of it here I went to the news sources — first, the BBC website (nada), then the Guardian, which had a full report as top story on its classical page. Drag R|ace UK, whatever that is, had loads of coverage. I have no idea why as I did not read the stories.

    Anyway, it looks as if a lot more than sections of R3 are headed north. Perhaps he just wanted to stay in London. I was wary — he uses “inclusive” and “diverse” in one sentence — though in education perhaps that is one place where those concerns do very much belong.

  • Peter says:

    I enjoy his writing and he has a lot of worthwhile insights. Whether that will make him a good Director of Arts &Learning, I don’t know. But I wish him the very best of luck, and i hope he does a great job.

  • Anonymous says:

    The BBC Symphony Orchestra is resident at the Barbican. Seems a bit too cosy to me.

  • Bratscherscratcher says:

    On a television quiz show he was asked to name the composer of The Seasons beginning with V and his answer was Verdi. Bodes well for the Barbican.