Bringing in the next generation of art and culture followers

The Barbican is a hallowed institution, renowned for its rich and eclectic programming. Yet our research found that for a younger audience the brand and space is seen as elitist and considered ‘not for them’. Art and culture for this audience has no boundaries, takes many and multiple forms and is not the preserve of the establishment.

We sought to break down the negative perceptions that held back this audience by turning the keys over to them and redefining the Barbican as an open and engaging place that Gen Z would have total confidence exploring new art and culture in.

At the barbs podcast

At the Barbs

To do this, we created a new podcast series At The Barbs. Offering the freshest perspectives on art and culture happening right now at the Barbican, from the names and faces that transcend culture, media and music for Gen Z.

The podcast breaks free from the often formal language of ‘art’ and places it in the hands of the guests. Reviewing, discussing, debating, and jumping off themes, giving an unfettered and fresh perspective on the latest shows and exhibitions.

The show also encourages listeners to develop their own point of view, safe in the knowledge that there’s no right or wrong way to experience or talk about art. Whether you’re watching a live stream from your bed or sitting in the audience, the Barbican is a place that is open to anyone and everyone who has an interest in art and culture.

At the Barbs is fronted by Capital XTRA’s morning show host, Robert Bruce, and features a different guest each week from the world of Gen Z culture. From Tottenham rapper Mira May to Top Boy director, Kobe Adom, each guest reflects on the show or exhibition they’ve seen that week, discussing its themes whilst unpacking their own creativity and views on culture.

At the barbs podcast guests

Opening up the way we talk about art – how it can influence lives and where there’s no right or wrong answer – is really exciting, and we’ve loved working with The Elephant Room to create At the Barbs and the exciting campaign that sits around it.

Ben Jefferies

Head of Marketing

At the barbs podcast billboard

Perception changing creative

The podcast was created to transform how Gen-Z perceives the Barbican and the launch campaign needed to do the same. Working with a host of young and talented illustrators, we created larger than life images of our guests and hosts as they literally stepped into the Barbican. Eclectic, colourful and vibrant, our characters contrasted against the monochrome Brutalist modernist architecture the Barbican is famed for.

A fluid liquid-esque identity was designed, and launched simultaneously with Barbican’s new brand refresh. Audibly and visually the campaign reflects a new meeting of cultures and positions the Barbican in a fresh and engaging light.

At the Barbs launched on 9th November 2022 and can be found on the Barbican website, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Acast and Spotify.



The series has been one of the Barbican’s most successful podcasts ever for attracting and retaining new users.

Two of the episodes were among the Barbican’s top 5 ever for reaching new audiences

Highest consistent number of unique listeners/viewers for a content series from the Barbican