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The Barbican is back with a huge 2021 programme of stuff

The arts centre has great art shows, music, a musical, films and loads of plants

Chris Waywell
Written by
Chris Waywell

Time Out loves the Barbican. We make no bones about that: it’s our favourite weird uncle wearing his trademark brutalist cardigan. It not only holds great art exhibitions (like the Michael Clark one and the ‘Masculinites’ show), it does top theatre, programmes interesting films and gigs, has a cool shop, decent food and drink, brilliant outdoor and indoor spaces and an eccentric conservatory that’s like a portal to some weird TV movie from the 1980s. So yeah, we’re fans, and its removal from our cultural map for the last year has been a real bummer.

So it’s great that it’s announced a sitewide reopening from May, including some shows that got postponed because of Covid. 

The art gallery, cinemas, shop and cafés, plus live audiences in the Barbican Hall, will be back in the week of May 17. The conservatory will be open again in late May (though you’ll still need to book a timed slot in advance). The Curve and the Pit will return on June 17, with the Barbican Theatre returning later in the summer.

In terms of the programme, the art gallery has ‘Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty’ (May 17-Aug 22, tickets available now), the first major UK exhibition of the work of the French artist for more than half a century. 

In the Curve, Pit and foyer, is ‘Claudia Andujar: The Yanomami Struggle’ (Jun 17-Aug 29, tickets available now), documenting the activism of the Brazilian artist.

There’s live music with a new Live from the Barbican concert series, 15 concerts featuring a live stream as well as a socially-distanced live audience when permitted. The line-up includes Paul WellerJules BuckleyMoses BoydSheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, the 12 Ensemble with Jonny Greenwood and Anna Meredith, George the Poet and Nadine Shah. Book now for all concerts.

The film programme includes the curated film series Return to the City, plus, the Barbican’s Cinemas 2 and 3 have had a refurb.

So, there’s loads on, and when you see a programme like the Barbican’s, you sort of realise all over again how much London has been deprived of art, culture, live music and the spaces that those things create and nurture. It’s good to be back.  

There’s a new Curzon cinema coming to Camden.

Missing classy drinking? Here are some rooftop bars you can book.

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