By Sade Banks, Community Engagement Manager at the Barbican
I’m lucky enough to work at the Barbican, which is a leading international arts centre based in the City of London. It’s really important to us that as many people as possible have the chance to experience the huge variety of events and activities we have on offer. The Barbican is a public building with music, theatre, dance, film and art all under one roof and we want everyone to feel welcome.
I feel very passionately about the importance of art being open to everyone. This is because getting involved in art helped me to discover a new side of myself and gave me a new lens to see the world through. I remember when I first saw black actors on stage; it was the first time I’d seen someone who looked like me doing something incredible and I wanted to be part of it.
Art really is for everyone. If you don’t understand something it’s not because you are stupid, it may just be because you see the world in a different way. The best thing to do is to keep trying lots of different things as there really is something out there for everyone. Sometimes people start off feeling like the Barbican isn’t a place for them. They might feel intimidated by the building or not sure if there are any events going on inside that they would enjoy.
However, when they discover that we have a large Creative Learning programme, which helps people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the arts, they tend to be pleasantly surprised! We also go outside of our building to run free events and activities in our local East London communities too.
Another thing helping to change the perception that the arts aren’t for everyone, is our partnership with Apples & Pears.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of welcoming 46 families from five schools in Tower Hamlets who were on a trip funded by Apples & Pears. They took part in the Barbican’s OpenFest, a day of free events and activities which gave a taster of everything the Barbican has to offer – from film screenings to musical workshops.
Working with Apples & Pears is a great way for us to reach out to families on our doorstep who haven’t visited the Barbican before. One of the parents who came along said that she’d always felt intimidated at the thought of bringing her children to such a big building on her own and so it helped that Apples & Pears had organised a trip with support from volunteers.
Another mum said: “Because I’ve been ill, I find it hard to take the children out by myself. My family would never have made it here if Apples & Pears hadn’t organised the day for us.”
It was great to see the children enjoying themselves. The book making workshop was one of the highlights. They loved learning-by-doing, using wire and card to make stories into precious books with personalised decorations. They also enjoyed the animation workshop where they drew characters which were then filmed and brought to life before their eyes.
You could tell they were having a great time by the huge smiles on their faces. But the trip was about much more than just having fun. Experiencing art and live performance helped the children to grow in confidence, challenge perceptions and articulate their ideas. I’ve seen first-hand how drama and creative experiences can help children express their emotions and develop their identity. So, I’m thrilled that our partnership with Apples & Pears has helped local children discover new experiences.
We have lots of great events for families coming up and we hope to see you at the Barbican soon. Click here to find out more about the exciting ways you can get involved.