Barbican Arts Centre

Category: Performing Arts

The Barbican Arts Centre is an arts venue in the centre of the Barbican Estate in the City of London, UK.

It opened in 1982, after a long and at times painful gestation which dated right back to the area having been badly bombed during World War II. It is owned, funded and managed by the City of London, the third largest funder of the arts in the UK. It was built as ‘the City’s gift to the nation’ at an historical capital cost of £161 million, equivalent to almost £400 million today.

The Barbican Centre was also voted “London’s ugliest building” according to a BBC poll in September 2003.

Until recently it was the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It also stages a wide range of performances by visiting theatre and dance companies.

The centre was designed with a complex multi-level layout, making circulation difficult. Efforts have been made since the mid-1990’s to improve signage. In 2005/6 a further new signage scheme was introduced and a new internal bridge has been added linking the Silk Street foyer area with the lakeside foyer area. Also, a more generous pedestrian entrance from Silk Street, which had previously been dominated by an entrance for vehicles, was provided.

The Museum of London is close by.


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