CRIPtic Pit Party, Barbican Stories, & Institutional Racism

CRIPtic Pit Party and Barbican Stories – A statement

CRIPtic Pit Party 2021 – a showcase of d/Deaf and disabled artists, is taking place in the Pit at the Barbican in Autumn 2021 – a time when the Barbican is also grappling with institutional racism. My decision to continue to present the work at the Barbican was a complex one, and this statement is written to explain it.

The release of Barbican Stories, and the accounts within it, made it clear that many people have experienced institutional racism within the Barbican. The work to heal wounds caused by this and to change and rebuild the institutional environment is very necessary. I realise the Barbican are reporting changes they are making, but that outputs are taking time.

Knowing this situation I had to consider whether it was appropriate to put CRIPtic on in the Barbican. However, on considering ways forward and the access features available at the Barbican Centre, the question arose: if not here, then where? That question highlighted the level of institutional disableism also running through the sector, and the challenges CRIPtic faces in platforming the work of d/Deaf and disabled artists.

The Barbican Centre did considerable building work backstage in the Pit in 2019 to create a hoist adapted changing space with changing bed and allow CRIPtic 2019 to happen. There is nowhere else that I am aware of that would have been able to offer these facilities backstage and therefore make it possible for the showcase to go ahead. 

During the pandemic, marginalised creatives have been working under incredible financial and social pressures, and there has been an even greater lack of opportunities for artists – especially accessible opportunities. Therefore, the other alternative of taking this away from a range of marginalised d/Deaf and disabled artists by cancelling the showcase did not feel to me like it was ultimately the right decision for me to make on behalf of the cohort. 

It was a difficult decision, but I am presenting CRIPtic 2021 at the Barbican Centre, whilst being clear that this is not a stamp of general approval of the venue, the organisation, or the industry. I am fully in support of the people who told their stories of institutional racism faced and observed at the Barbican, and recognise the tensions that exist in me putting this work on at this time.

I hope that the work we are bringing will challenge prejudices and orthodoxies in the arts, and will work to change art for the future.

Jamie Hale – Artistic Director, CRIPtic Arts

Supported by the creative team

Lata Nobes – Associate Director

Mik Scarlet – Producer / Production Manager