Agenda item

Lewis Silkin External Review into racism at the Barbican Centre

Report of the Deputy Town Clerk and Chief Executive.


The Board received a report of the Deputy Town Clerk and Chief Executive concerning the Lewis Silkin External Review into Racism at the Barbican Centre.


The Chair and Town Clerk summarised the context for the commissioning of Lewis Silkin Review and HR Audit. Members were informed that additional resources would go to the Barbican and the Interim Managing Directors were working to take forward the actions as it was important for them to be owned by the Centre with City Corporation oversight.


The Deputy Chair (statutory) read a statement on behalf of the Deputy Chair (External) who was happy that everything had been publicly published with full transparency and hoped to move forward more positively. The key issue remained HR, which was felt to have been underinvested to the detriment of the Barbican, .and the Town Clerk was asked what plans there were to invest in the City Corporation and Barbican’s HR Department.


The Town Clerk responded that the decision regarding additional funding needed to follow after the action plan was implemented. This consideration would need to be taken to the Establishment Committee and brought back to the Board. The Town Clerk encouraged the Board to support the Barbican’s HR Team in delivering the enormous task upon them.


The Deputy Chair read feedback by a Member unable to attend the meeting concerning the role of the Board to improve good governance, the need for more significant reference to the Board in the action plans and the need for the Board to take a central role in the governance of how they are taken forward including regular reports to the Board.


Members recognised there needed to be Board accountability and agreed they had not been as proactive, open and responsive as they should have been in the past. It was acknowledged that Members were aware the action plan was moving too slowly, and the Board should have pushed harder. Members committed to remain vigilant for the future and willing to intervene when necessary.



In response to a query concerning why inclusivity targets were set as medium-term rather than sooner, Officers confirmed this was because the amount of employee data was not satisfactory as a baseline to set targets and this data needed to be collected first. It was noted that the HR Audit articulated the need to analyse data to show how the Centre was not only doing at the time, but also year on year. The collection of good data required trust and resources which would take time. Members highlighted that people were the Centre’s most important asset and encouraged the HR and Comms Teams to think about people and culture in all language and messaging.


Members highlighted the long list of actions to track and the need for a systematic way of reporting on issues, e.g. RAG reports with issues and progress clearly identified. A Member noted that the Tackling Racism Taskforce did this well and requested that reporting come in the same format at every meeting to assist Members to track and monitor.


A Member identified the key issue of culture at the Centre which went even further than racism as overall general resect for all staff. It was felt that there needed to be an aggressive push to resolve all culture issues and seriously look at all broader issues as this could set the Centre up for failure. There was concern that other staff could be feeling underappreciated or side-lined and if the Centre wished to strive for excellence, there needed to be opportunities, development and apprenticeships available.


Members were informed that the Centre was striving for a fundamental shift in culture with equity sitting in everything it did. It was hoped Barbican Futures and Masters would add real value. Officers acknowledged that the way the Centre worked with Board also needed to change with the Board involved with full understanding of what is being done to ensure they understood the issues and provide necessary support. 


With regards to the recommendation to appoint a Member as a Board Champion to sponsor the implementation of the plan, to champion it and to ensure accountability, Members regarded this as a good way forward and Professor Jane Roscoe was appointed. It was also agreed that the Board Champion be a Member of the Nominations, Inclusion & Effectiveness Committee.


RESOLVED, that Members: -


·         Note the content of the reports resulting from the External Review and the HR Audit;


·         Appoint Professor Jane Roscoe as the Board Champion and a Member of the Nominations, Inclusion & Effectiveness Committee for the remainder of the municipal year;


·         Authorise the Town Clerk to:


o   implement the Action Plan (as defined below) including delegating responsibility for specific actions to the appropriate people;


o   take such further steps as are deemed appropriate by him with regard to the Specific Allegations (as defined below); and


o   implement the actions recommended by the HR Audit.


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