The present managing director, Baroness Detta O'Cathain, agreed last month to take fully paid leave following a period of discontent at the centre. It is understood that the City of London, which is the centre's landlord, is close to agreeing severance terms with her.
The City of London Corporation is legally forbidden from approaching any possible candidates while negotiations with Baroness O'Cathain continue. But leading figures. have been sounded out.
A short list of names circulating within the centre includes: Genista McIntosh, the number two at the National Theatre; John Willan, former MD of the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Patrick Deuchar, chief executive at the Royal Albert Hall; Anthony Lewis Crosbie, former head of arts at the Barbican and now MD of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; John Drummond who runs the Proms; John Tusa, former controller of the BBC World Service; Ian Maclay former MD of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Colin Tweedy, director of the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts.
With the baroness absent, the day to day running of the centre has been taken over by Bernard Harty, the chamberlain of the City of London.
He is already made an impact, sorting out budgets and securing an extra £1.8m for the RSC Though he could technically apply to stay on as managing director, running the Barbican ranks below chamberlain of London in the complex City of London hierarchy. So this is thought unlikely.
The post will attract a salary of between £75,000 and £100,000.