Barbican Centre branded ‘institutionally racist’ by staff 

The Barbican Centre has been accused of being "institutionally racist" in a dossier of incidents compiled by its staff.

Past and present workers have written a 250-page document, titled Barbican Stories, which includes almost 100 personal testimonies of alleged racist incidents or experiences of discrimination at the performing arts centre in London.

The Barbican is  "institutionally racist" and favours the  “white and upper/middle class”, according to these staff members who compiled the dossier.

The document includes accusations that a senior member of staff called an Asian employee “yellow”.

The staff behind Barbican Stories have demanded “radical change” at the institution in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, accusing the centre of offering only “cosmetic corporate exercises” to address issues of racism.

The Barbican Stories group said in a statement:  “The Barbican’s working culture is inherently racist. It is insidious and incredibly obvious at the same time. 

“It is evident that the Barbican, alongside other institutions in the UK and beyond, take the accusation of racism far more seriously than the actual doing and upholding of it.

“In making this a matter of public interest, we are putting external pressure on the institution.

“These conversations cannot be controlled by institutions who are incapable of self-led criticism because they are run by people who don’t genuinely believe there is a problem”

Accusations in the dossier include someone having to shave their afro hair because it kept being touched, staff being called racial epithets, and employees having little room for advancement in an “upper class” institution.

Physical copies of the dossier have been sent to the directors of the Barbican, and the centre has launched an investigation into the allegations.

A spokeswoman for the institution said:  "The Barbican has always strived to be an inclusive, welcoming and open organisation. We are shocked and saddened to hear about these allegations.

“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."

The Barbican said it has received nor formal complaints, and that staff could contribute to the independent investigation following the dossier being made public.

Barbican Stories said:  “We could have also created books about sexism and gender discrimination, about ableism and about classism.

“It is by bringing these concealed realities to the public sphere, that we can confront and dismantle systems of power together.” 

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