The site that crashed the Barbican

The site that crashed the Barbican


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2021

We have only just clocked the ‘Barbican Stories’ website which prompted the departure of the arts centre’s chief Sir Nicholas Kenyon.

This is from the site’s mission statement:

Barbican Stories is home to 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. These experiences are not unique to the Barbican, because systemic racism is endemic in the arts & culture sector and in society.

The book exists to record and archive experiences that are typically suppressed, ignored, isolated from each other and explained away as anomalies. Writers are anonymous because it is still not safe for these experiences to be openly spoken about and characters in the stories are anonymised because this document is about looking at the Barbican through the lens of systemic and institutional racism and discrimination, not about individual persons….

The content is supposedly ‘written by the Barbican’s employees of colour and funded by white employees.’ But it does seem remarkable that a resignation should be panicked by stories that are both anonymous and untested by rules of evidence.

These are the times we live in.


  • Nik says:

    The whole point of “systemic racism” is that there is no evidence for it. It’s an act of faith. You have to believe that it exists, and if you don’t then you’re part of the problem.
    It is a classic case of, to use another fashionable term, “gaslighting”.
    Many formerly sane members of the arts establishment are now signing very loudly from that hymn sheet, in the mistaken belief that it will save them from the mob. Of course it will do no such thing.

    • Emil says:

      Sure, that is true if you ignore dozens of government reports, decades of academic research, literally thousands of testimonies to this effect, and often the evidence of your own two eyes.
      The people who wrote on the website referenced above exist (I’d be very surprised if the Barbican got its chief exec to leave without making some minimum diligence to ensure the messages are authentic), and their testimonies *are* evidence.

      • V.Lind says:

        Not evidence. Anonymous accounts on a website. Elsewhere, I think that might be called trolling.

        • Emil says:

          And yet, testimonies and personal experience *are* evidence. They are admissible in court – even anonymised in certain conditions – and they are certainly valid out of it. And you can be sure that if this were a smear campaign by people not affiliated with the Barbican, they’d know.

        • Skeptical says:

          As I recall, you were very vocal about the “anonymous accounts” when Gareth Hancock was sacked from Glyndebourne, calling them smears. Well, look how that evidence turned out. Same opinion this time, then?

      • Adrienne says:

        ‘Sure, that is true if you ignore dozens of government reports, decades of academic research, literally thousands of testimonies to this effect, and often the evidence of your own two eyes.’

        The same could be said of UFOs.

        Racism in the UK has a supply and demand problem. There’s insufficient racism to meet the demand, and ‘systemic’ or ‘institutional’ racism is a useful (but racist) way of filling the void and keeping the hustlers employed.

        Legislation can be applied where proper evidence exists. Mostly it does not.

        • Emil says:

          Well that is simply nonsense. The evidence is literally everywhere, and in many cases legislation is (part of) the problem more than the solution. As for the suggestion that there is “insufficient racism” in a country that literally lost its mind over a dozen lads saying “racism is bad” and taking a knee, a country where the PM has a long history of blatant racism, where an Islamophobic Prevent program is run all throughout the education sector, and where a considerable number of people literally fought with police to preserve statues of slave-owning imperialists, that is simply laughable.

          P-S: as the recent American government report shows, there is indeed evidence of the existence of “UFOs”, with an emphasis on “unidentified”. We’re not talking spaceships and aliens, we’re talking observed phenomena that have not been ID’d – could be sensor malfunction, drones, animals, weather phenomena, etc. Again, to assess what evidence exists, you have to know what you’re talking about.

  • operacentric says:

    It’s because I’m … whatever … innit?