London's outdoor arts in the public realm

London's outdoor arts in the public realm

By Arts Council England


This booklet presents the experience of 10 large arts and cultural institutions in London commissioned by ACE to undertake work in the public realm in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. They included The Barbican, The British Library, The British Museum, Exhibition Road Cultural Group, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, Southbank Centre, Tate and Royal National Theatre. These case studies identify opportunities and challenges of animating outdoor locations and engaging with audiences in unexpected ways, as well as clues as to how building-based arts companies can promote audience and organisational development.  

For the Barbican, Europe’s largest arts centre, working outdoors has been a natural evolution of its changing programme and underlines a desire to interact with local communities – one that has started to change the organisation itself.

A virtuous cycle is now developing in which working with local communities is linking the venue to the people. While working outdoors with organisations across east London, the Barbican has been reminded of its status as an international leader, whose importance to local people is demonstrated by their willingness to work in partnership. They are also encouraged by the communities’ readiness to come to the venue and to enjoy the uniqueness of seeing something in which they have been involved, in an international concert hall.

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2013