Take a seat at the Barbican and watch partnerships flourish

Sue Etherington looks after Association Business development at the Barbican, a multi award-winning venue in the heart of the City of London. As a world-leading combined arts and conference centre, the Barbican’s cultural and commercial offering blends perfectly to create the perfect home for association events of up to 2,000

When I decided to join the Barbican team, a key draw was their focus on ‘collaboration, partnership and legacy’. No matter what takes place in the venue, it was how each of these words fed into a final event that interested me. With circa 30 years’ experience of the industry – particularly in the association niche – I wanted to be part of a team delivering such positive outcomes.

Photo credit: Max Colson

Photo credit: Max Colson

Last year I took part in a panel discussion at the ABPCO Festival of Learning alongside Suzanne Singleton, head of associations at London & Partners, and Matt Davenport, project director at MCI Group. During the sessions we looked at a bid we had recently won for the City based on an open and honest working partnership between our three organisations. It was the perfect example of what we can deliver, which is why I thought I would share a couple of key points from both the session and winning process. 

The Barbican team had identified a global urban sustainability congress as a potential opportunity, but we needed the support of others to ensure the win. Hence reaching out to both destination and PCO partners. We knew we had the right venue in terms of size, space, sustainability credentials and strong relationships. However, the subject matter had such a strong resonance with London’s focus on an environmental and sustainable future that we had to get a wider team involved if it was to truly deliver a legacy for Londoners and beyond.

Suzanne and her team brought significant support at every level from their own partners to the Mayor’s office, Greater London Authority and even central government. The ambitious nature of the bid, with a local theme of ‘Engaging Communities’, even included bespoke hand-drawn maps detailing the programme, tie ins with the Mayor’s industrial strategy and the City’s 2030 net zero target.

Such a comprehensive bid required us to go even further though if we were to bring it home – enter Matt’s team to ensure the bid and programme came to life, with wider activations across the whole of the city. As a PCO, their financial acumen and knowledge of what was realistic and possible was vital as was their help with creating virtual elements before during and after the event - these ensured we addressed the legacy and alumni needs of the brief.

It was a real pleasure to work so collaboratively in a way that ultimately led to a significant win for all involved – including the client, who knows they have an incredibly knowledgeable team here to support them. It is events and partnerships like this that excite me and keep me coming back to work 30 years after I first started in this wonderful business.

“Ecocity Builders is delighted to welcome London as host of Ecocity 2023. Their winning bid, and its ambition to connect communities, ticked all our boxes. There was a clear understanding of cities as complex systems with multidisciplinary actors and sectors. More than that, we saw a level-headed approach to networking them all together to achieve ambitious goals and better outcomes. There is a lot we can learn from London and, I think, a lot we can share as well. The most successful cities and neighbourhood are going to be those who figure out how to effectively collaborate and execute their plans. The London bid acknowledges this by embracing complexity and creativity at the core of change”

Kirstin Miller, Executive Director, Ecocity Builders

Further information about hosting collaborative events at the Barbican can be found by contacting the Business Events Team.

+44 (0)20 7382 7043