Giulia C

SW Voices: Katy Stephens, Events Sales Executive

Katy Stephens joined us in September 2018 as Events Sales Executive. With over 20 years’ experience in London’s conference and events industry, in her new role Katy focuses on maximising opportunities for Sadler’s Wells’ spaces as hire venues and searching for new clients.

Hi Katy, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I was born and bred in a small coastal village in Essex. After miserably failing my A-Level exams, a friend suggested that I should enrol on to a BTEC National Diploma in Hotel Management, Hospitality and Operations. I had the best time there, learning not only all the aspects of hotel management, but also how to cook, plan menus, and run restaurants and bars. After college, I went on to do a management training programme, rotating in various departments in different hotels until I decided to focus on Front of Office and Reception.

Within a couple of years and with further progression, I became Conference and Event Manager at an independently-owned, four-star hotel in South Kensington. Apart from the hotel sector, I also worked in the catering industry, corporate hospitality and event management, holding positions such as Regional Sales Manager and Senior Events Manager supervising spaces like ExCel London and working on prestigious events such as the London Boat Show, the Classic Car Show and World Travel Market.

A key moment in my career was when I joined the events team at the Hilton London Metropole, where I had the opportunity to arrange one of my most memorable events: the organisation and event management of the Olympic Sponsors, VISA, in 2012. I was lucky enough to attend the Opening Ceremony!

From setting up hospitality and VIP dining in a tent to sumptuous banquets in the Hinze Hall at the Natural History Museum, the list is of events I managed is endless, and each one was completely different! I’ve worked in Front of House to greet guests, but also put the gloves on, and helped the team clear plates and glasses. That’s how this industry works!

Have you noticed any difference working at an arts organisation compared to working in a more corporate setting? Was there anything particular about Sadler’s Wells that drew you in?

First of all, the atmosphere is much more relaxed at Sadler’s Wells compared to a corporate setting. The environment in the office is a joy to work in, with many laughs and discussions on the wide and varied range of events that we hold. This is not to say that working here comes without challenges. The deadlines for venue availability are ever-changing, making some of the sales aspects a little more difficult.

Also, as my background is more corporate, it has been hard to ensure that we are targeting the right market sector for the spaces. This has involved going down the more artistic route, hunting out contacts and looking for business in areas where I had not ventured before! It’s great that I have the opportunity to work with a new type of business and learn the way of working within a theatre environment, where each event enquiry is unique.

Before coming to Sadler’s Wells, I was briefly exposed to event management in the arts. During a temporary contract with a leading catering company, I worked with the Event teams organising The Brits Awards 2018 at the O2 and the Mercury Music Awards 2018 at the Eventim Apollo. When the opportunity to join an exclusive artistic venue like Sadler’s Wells arose, it was too good to miss.

You joined the events team in September. What does your job entail? What are the most exciting and challenging aspects of it?

Since joining the team, I have been asked to take a more proactive role to ensure that we are up to date with our online listings for both venue information and availability and to increase the number of enquiries that we receive.

The additional capacity within the Events team since I joined also means that we can now be more involved with our partners at Unique Venues of London, London City Selection and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and their activities. I regularly attend the members’ meetings and search for opportunities to work and network with them, and open up the venue spaces to a wider audience who maybe didn’t know about all of the facilities that we have available for hire. Our goal is to maximise the use of all our spaces through bookings from corporate and commercial business

I have always firmly believed that ‘people buy from people’ and that, if you are confident and believe in your product, your clients will be more inclined to go with you as a venue.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing a career in event management in the arts?

Be prepared to learn and be quick! In the events and catering industry you are always learning. It is an industry that is ever-changing.

Be mindful that event management in the arts world is not the same as in the corporate environment. Therefore, learn the rules! Have an understanding of how systems work in each setting and what you need to get in order to make a complete and concise proposal. Make sure you copy in all relevant colleagues to emails and correspondence, as in this environment it is a 24/7 operation. Event management is not a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job! To be a successful event manager, be prepared to work hard and often long hours.

Have the memory of an elephant. You will have hundreds of conversations in an hour and someone will always come back and say, “You know that thing you mentioned…”. If you are not sure, write it down!

My first NYDC residency: I feel achy, accepted and privileged

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), the UK’s leading incubator for young talent run by Sadler’s Wells, has started to rehearse its new piece, MADHEAD, under Botis Seva’s artistic guidance. The ensemble had their first residency at DanceEast in Ipswich in October. Among them is Harriet Musgrove, a 18-year-old dancer coming from Exmouth in Devon. Following the residency, she shared her thoughts on how it feels to be a NYDC dancer.

“Prior to the first residency, I felt a variety of emotions: I was anxious, excited, tense and also quite overwhelmed! I can remember walking through the doors of Sadler’s Wells and all the other 37 members of the company had already arrived. But everybody welcomed and put me at ease immediately – it was a great feeling!

We arrived at DanceEast in Ipswich after travelling from Sadler’s Wells and headed straight into the studio, where Botis Seva and his dancers Jordan and Joshua greeted us. We were thrown straight into the deep end with some challenging repertoire and some crazy improvisation tasks. Even after the first day of the residency, I felt incredibly inspired by the energy of Botis and his team.

NYDC first residency. Image: Manuel Vason

A typical day during an NYDC residency begins with a warm up led by members of the company followed by six hours of dance class with Botis and his team. Training was interspersed with breaks to re-energise and recharge our bodies. Our days would end with our Zen for Ten, which gave us time to reflect and write down anything we wanted to – an exercise I really appreciated. We also had something called Toolbox sessions, extremely insightful discussions led by the NYDC team each evening about auditions and applications for dance schools.

I left the first residency feeling very achy, yet accepted and privileged to be part of NYDC. My aim for the next residency is to absorb as much information as possible from Botis, and also learn from all the dancers around me. They all move so powerfully! I am so excited for the upcoming year and I can’t wait to see how the piece will turn out!”

MADHEAD will premiere at Dance East in Ipswich on 20 April 2019, followed by a nationwide tour and a final performance at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July 2019. 

Header Image: Manuel Vason

Ai Weiwei designs Flag for Human Rights

A nationwide campaign jointly led by arts and human rights organisations launched today with the unveiling of a human rights flag by artist Ai Weiwei.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the new flag was commissioned as part of Fly The Flag for Human Rights. Confronted by the real and present dangers of a world changing at break-neck speed, the initiative aims to offer hope and to educate generations to come about the absolute importance of universal human rights.

Sadler’s Wells is among the co-producers of the project alongside Fuel, Amnesty, Donmar Warehouse, Human Rights Watch, Liberty, National Theatre and Tate Art Galleries – with many other institutions from across the UK supporting as advocates.

Forest Gate Community School pupils holding the flag

Held at Forest Gate Community School in Newham, east London, the launch saw pupils reveal the flag and ended with an invitation to schools, libraries, offices and community centres across the country to come together  for a week of action on 24-30 June 2019 – to Fly The Flag in any way they like and celebrate that human rights are for everyone, every day.

Artist Ai Weiwei with the human rights flag. Image: Camilla Greenwell

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to design a flag for the 70th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Ai Weiwei. “As we all come to learn, human rights are the precious result from generation after generation’s understanding of the human struggle. I am proud to be a part of this force.”

Our Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding speaks at the launch

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out basic freedoms that every one of us is entitled to, such as freedom of thought, speech, religion and belief. However, not everyone may know what these rights are and how they are currently protected in UK law,” commented our Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding. “Today, it is time to remind ourselves of our human rights and how to uphold them in our lives – at work, at school, in our communities – to fight any kind of discrimination. This project aims to raise awareness of our fundamental rights and of how we can all take action to seek equal dignity, equal justice and equal opportunity.”

Education packs have been produced and made available on the Fly The Flag website for schools, to encourage discussion on human rights in the classroom. You can watch a video of Ai Weiwei discussing the concept behind his flag design here.

Participants watch a video with Ai Weiwei

The human rights flag design

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information and to sign up, visit www.flytheflag.org.uk or follow @FlyTheFlag70 on social media.

National Youth Dance Company announces new cohort

The National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) has started to work with 2018-19 Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva on a new piece titled MADHEAD.

Twenty-eight new members – 19 female and nine male – were selected through experience workshops held throughout the UK over the summer. They joined ten returning dancers from last year to form a company of 38.

Image: Manuel Vason

Far From The Norm Artistic Director Botis Seva will lead this new cohort. His appointment followed the world premiere of his recent highly acclaimed piece, BLKDOG, commissioned as part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary’s triple bill, Reckonings (Oct 2018), which also included works from Julie Cunningham and Alexandra Seutin. Seva has also recently collaborated with filmmaker Billy Boyd Cape to produce Reach, a short film commissioned by Sadler’s Wells as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts series.

The company will premiere MADHEAD at Dance East in Ipswich on 20 April 2019, followed by a nationwide tour and a final performance at Sadler’s Wells in July 2019. The new commission will blend contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip hop.

Established in 2012 and run by Sadler’s Wells, NYDC is the UK’s flagship company for young dancers aged 15-24, bringing together and nurturing the brightest talent from across the country with the aim of shaping the future of dance.

NYDC’s dancers are mentored during four intensive residencies in school holidays to rehearse the new piece. Read here new member Harriet Musgrove’s personal reflection on the company’s first residency held at DanceEast in Ipswich in October.

What the NYDC programme offers to its young members is a unique insight into the dance profession and the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with professional dance artists and their creative teams. The year-long experience in the company has proved successful in providing dancers with the necessary skills and techniques to find career opportunities. Over 80% of NYDC alumni have either gone on to undertake further dance studies or work professionally at established dance companies such as Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Cullberg Ballet, BalletBoyz and Rambert2.

Find out more about NYDC and its upcoming projects at https://nydc.org.uk/

The 28 new dancers for NYDC 2018/2019 are:

Selako Jade Ackuaku, Berkshire (17)
Harvey Burke – Hamilton, Epsom (17)
Kendra Chiagoro – Noel, Ealing (18)
Erin Dallas, East Grinstead (17)
Sekou Diaby, Brixton (17)
Karim Dime, Hampstead (23)
Maia Faulker, Brighton (16)
Sarah Golden, Horfield (17)
Mark Halton, Ambleside (16)
Orla Hardie, Bath (17)
Connor Humphreys, Thatcham (17)
Ethan Hurip, Brighton (16)
Kit Ibbott, Great Bington (18)
Hannah Joseph, Stratford (16)
Ewelina Kosinka, Ashford (18)
Florence Lennon, Brighton (17)
Amelia Long, Nunhead (17)
Sandra Maduoma, Kelvedon (17)
Faye McLoughlin, Montpellier (17)
Mathilde Mellor, Lewes (16)
Harriet Musgrove, Exmouth (18)
Zara Philips, Greasby (17)
Ned Ratcliffe, Helston (17)
Anna Smith, Lingfield (18)
Millie Smith-Hashim, Saltdean (16)
Mollie Stebbing, Erith (18)
Harry Wilson, Intake (17)
Grace Young, Hull (18)

This new intake joins the 10 returning NYDC dancers:

Gemma Baker, Wantage (17)
James Cooper, Blackpool (17)
Daisy Dancer, Hexham (17)
Lola Evans, Brighton (17)
James Hall, Cambridge (17)
Samara Langham, Nunhead (18)
Eleanor Roberts, Dartmouth (17)
Esme Tothill, Brighton (16)
Paul Davidson, West Dulwich (21)
Beth Gardiner, Wollaton (24)

Header Image: Manuel Vason

Sadler’s Wells backs plan to increase diversity of theatre workforce

Sadler’s Wells joined a group of nearly 100 UK theatres in signing up to an innovative action plan designed to increase diversity among theatre professionals working offstage.

Developed by BECTU, the UK’s media and entertainment trade union, the Theatre Diversity Action Plan aims to encourage greater diversity within the sector’s staff working in non-performance roles, and particularly to address the under-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people. The plan includes practical guidance as to how to improve the recruitment process, set realistic goals and avoid discrimination.

“Here in London we recognise that our diversity isn’t a weakness, but one of our greatest strengths,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the launch of the plan, held at the English National Opera last week. “It isn’t a challenge to be managed, but an asset to be unlocked.”

Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah speaking at the launch

Sadler’s Wells is among the leading London venues supporting the initiative, alongside the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Old Vic and Young Vic, as well as commercial groups including Ambassador Theatre Group and Lloyd Webber Theatres.

“We’re delighted to be among over 90 theatres across England and Scotland supporting BECTU’s Theatre Diversity Action Plan,” said our Chief Operating Officer Britannia Morton, who is responsible for overseeing Sadler’s Wells’ Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy. “We firmly believe a diverse workforce is more creative and resilient – better at understanding and responding to audiences’ needs, problem-solving and driving innovation. This is why we are committed to improve and celebrate the representation of diverse talent among our staff.”

Find out more about BECTU’s Theatre Diversity Action Plan at https://www.bectu.org.uk/home.

Breakin’ Convention takes over Denver for a weekend of hip hop dance theatre

Breakin’ Convention returned to Denver this month with a festival that celebrated hip-hop culture and showcased both world-class, international acts and local street dance companies.

The festival took over the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) for the second consecutive year on 2-4 November, in conjunction with #DenverArtsWeek. Around 5,000 people enjoyed performances and free activities over the weekend. The lineup featured Dutch b-boy crew The Ruggeds, UK’s BirdGang Dance Company with Vice, a piece on addiction, French dancer Antoinette Gomis, whose solo honoured the beauty of black culture, a comic duet by Sample Culture (also from The Netherlands), and Los Angeles-based popping trio Femme Fatale. All received standing ovations from the crowd.

Image by John Moore

The Ruggeds in Adrenaline The Show. Image: John Moore

Image by John Moore

Femme Fatale performing at DCPA. Image: John Moore

Image by John Moore

The Bboy Factory at DCPA. Image: John Moore

Image by John Moore

Antoinette Gomis in IMAGES. Image: John Moore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist and Breakin’ Convention’s Artistic Director Jonzi D curated and hosted the show, stressing the importance of creating an organic environment for hip-hop culture to flourish, a space where both local and international acts come together. Sharing his vision, General Manager of the DCPA’s Broadway division Alicia Bruce recognised that the festival “is not just about dance from around the world. It’s also about dance from around the corner”.


Jonzi D in conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore

Local acts included Block 1750, Chase Evered, Whole Milk, Breaking Barriers, The Freak Show, Love Es Love, Side by Side and B-Boy Factory, who also performed at the student matinee on Friday, which attracted an audience of 2,500 pupils.

A highlight was the 303 Free Jam, which kick-started the festival with a rich programme of dance workshops, graffiti, MCs, DJs and impromptu dance sessions delivered by Breakin’ Convention in collaboration with the headline artists.

“Considering that we don’t always have the opportunity to move the way we want, we really wanted to take advantage of this,” said Abner Genece, who took his son Jaden to the 303 Free Jam. “It fills me with joy to see him out there expressing himself. It’s amazing really to have the exposure to artists from all over the world, not only visually but movement-wise, music, vocally. To be able to expose him to all these different kinds of influences is great, and show him there’s a whole world out there right here in Denver.”

Image by John Moore

Mastering the steps with Ivan the Urban Action Figure. Image: John Moore

Image by Emma Ponsford

Young attendees wearing Breakin’ Convention’s merch. Image: Emma Ponsford

Image by John Moore

Graffiti workshop. Image: John Moore

Image by John Moore

Antoinette Gomis’ free Sample Session workshop. Image: John Moore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on upcoming events and activities, visit www.breakinconvention.com/

Header image: John Moore

Life is a dream for over 60s joining Rambert on stage

Over-60 dancers took to our main stage for a workshop delivered by Rambert, to coincide with the company’s run of new production Two last week.

Group picture at Rambert’s workshop. Image: Emma Bellerby

Company dancer Joshua Barwick led the session, starting with a gentle contemporary dance warm-up. He then taught participants some steps from Rambert’s production Life is a Dream, the retelling of the 17th-Century play of the same name choreographed by two-time Olivier Award-winner Kim Brandstrup. At the end of the workshop, the group performed duets from the piece.

This event welcomed complete beginners and gave them the opportunity to explore performance techniques with professional dancers against the backdrop of our main auditorium.

Working in pairs to learn dance steps from Rambert. Image: Emma Bellerby

Participants warming up.  Image: Emma Bellerby

 

Participants felt enriched by the experience. “How wonderful this morning’s workshop was. I really loved it! Josh was a real inspiration and I appreciated his patience,” said Margot.

“I just want to say how much I enjoyed the Rambert workshop today,” added Norma. “It was so joyful and we had such a brilliant teacher.”

“I dreamed of running away to dance at Sadler’s Wells when I was a little girl, ” admitted Rosey, “and to have achieved that aim was thrilling. Even though it took 60 years, I got there!”
“I think the outreach Sadler’s Wells does is fantastic and long may it continue,” she concluded.

The workshop was supported by our Learning & Engagement team, as part of our ongoing work to connect our local communities with the work we present on our stages, and to bring dance to the widest possible audience.

Sadler’s Wells scores top rating for environmental best practice

Sadler’s Wells was awarded an outstanding five-star rating (out of 5) in the Creative Green certification by environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle.

“We’re delighted to have been awarded a five-star rating for 2017-18, improving upon the four stars we obtained the previous year,” said Emma Wilson, Sadler’s Wells’ Director of Technical and Production, and Chair of the theatre’s Green Team. “To be part of a collective approach towards environmental sustainability gives strength to all our voices, and we are proud to stand alongside our colleagues across the cultural sector.”

Sadler’s Wells achieved the top rating for the first time this year, alongside the Lyric Hammersmith, Battersea Arts Centre and Almeida Theatre. This is the third year we’ve been working with Julie’s Bicycle toward the Creative Green certification, an accreditation that recognises environmental awareness and achievement within the creative sector.

Among the initiatives implemented in 2017-18 – overseen by our Green Team, a dedicated group of staff who meets regularly throughout the year to discuss new ideas and the implementation of our Sustainability Action Plan – were the presentation of a sustainable refurbishment workshop in collaboration with the Islington Sustainable Energy Partnership (ISEP), the participation in the Vehicle Idling Action campaign to reduce pollution, and the planting of a herb garden in the Sadler’s Wells courtyard for the benefit of our kitchen and cafe staff.

Members of Sadler’s Wells’ Green Team tend to our herb garden

An area we scored particularly high in is our understanding of the impact of emissions, energy and water use, and waste facilities onsite. Our energy use, energy-related emissions and water use all fell in comparison to data from 2016-17. Through our involvement in the Arts Council England’s Spotlight Programme – also delivered by Julie’s Bicycle – we intend to further improve our environmental literacy and reduce carbon emissions.

Sadler’s Wells’ five-star Creative Green certificate 2017-18

A future project we are proudly taking part in is the Accelerator Programme. Together with our Resident Company New Adventures and Norwich Theatre Royal, we aim to develop a new blueprint for environmentally sustainable touring by creating a change in the relationship between touring companies and receiving houses, starting with the upcoming Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake tour.

Julie’s Bicycle has been working with Arts Council England for over a decade to inspire environmental action across the arts and cultural sector, and we work closely with them in our drive to be more sustainable in all areas of our work, and contribute to global sustainability goals.

Find out more about our Sustainability Policy on our website.