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Cuts: Barbican chief criticises government's philanthropy policy

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At last night's launch of the Barbican's 2013 season, managing director Nicholas Kenyon joined the multitude of voices in the creative sector speaking out against the government's philanthropy arts funding policy.

Reflecting on a record 2012 for the venue, which saw attendances top one million for the first time, he said: "There's been much talk recently of philanthropy compensating for the funding shortfall, and we of course encourage philanthropy in the arts. But the fact is that what has filled the gap is commercial activity."

Kenyon joins a raft of voices in the creative sector, including directors Nicholas Hytner and Danny Boyle, who've spoken out against the government's proposal that private money can make up for spending cuts.

Speaking in November at a conference held to highlight the plight of regional theatres, Hytner described the policy as "wishful thinking", telling Whatsonstage.com: "Private money follows public money. Philanthropists want to get behind success stories, not dig people out of a hole."

The government has commissioned three reports on how to boost philanthropy and legacy giving to arts and heritage institutions.

Welcoming the publication of the first report back in November, culture secretary Maria Miller said: "There is enormous potential for the arts to benefit from philanthropy over the next few years, and we need to look at new ways of unlocking it."

Marking the Olympics anniversary

Among the highlights of its 2013 season, the Barbican will programme a weekend of projects at the Olympic park, titled East, celebrating the first anniversary of the London Olympics on 27 July.

Kenyon said: "The Barbican was proud to play a leading part in the cultural events of 2012... As a result of our long involvement in east London we are thrilled to have been commissioned with Create London to present East, a weekend of community arts events celebrating the opening of the north park on the first anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics."

On the theatre front, the Barbican will stage three off-site theatre productions in 2013: Bank On It by award-wnning children's theatre company Theatre-Rites; How Like An Angel by Australian circus company Circa; and The Paper Architect by Davy and Kirstin McGuire, which recently won the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award.

And, as previously announced, Richard II starring David Tennant (pictured), which sees the RSC return to the Barbican for the first time since 2002, will run in the main theatre over Christmas.

Barbican head of programming Louise Jeffreys last night described the RSC's return as the "revival and reinvention of an old partnership".

'Queuing is the new arform'

Kenyon branded 2012 a "total success" for the Barbican and revealed that attendances exceeded one million for the first time, boosted by highlights including Gross und Klein starring Cate Blanchett and Complicite's Master and Margarita.

"The Olympics-related slump did not materialise," said Kenyon, revealing that there was an uplift in arts attendances of over 100,000 from 2011.

And, referring to the sold out Rain Room exhibition, which saw punters queuing for up to eight hours for admission, he added: "The lesson of 2012 is that queuing is the new arform".

For more on the Barbican's 2013 season, visit www.barbican.org.uk


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