Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, has been awarded a Knighthood for Services to Dance in the New Year Honours.
Alistair Spalding has been the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells Theatre since 2004 and is currently overseeing the construction of a fourth venue, Sadler’s Wells East, opening in 2023.
Under Alistair Spalding’s leadership, Sadler’s Wells has become one of the most respected dance institutions in the world, presenting an ambitious programme of cutting-edge dance in all its forms and hosting world-class national and international companies and artists.
Sir Matthew Bourne:
‘Sir Alistair is the UK’s foremost champion of dance in its many forms. As Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells – one of the world’s foremost dance organisations – he has overseen a golden age of exciting developments in contemporary dance in particular and has served as a mentor to several generations of world class choreographers whose work has been commissioned and brought to prominence under his inspired leadership. My own collaboration with Alistair has been a mainstay of his time at Sadler’s Wells and I’m proud to have been part of the ongoing success story of this beloved theatre – Bravo Sir Alistair! A much-deserved honour! Long may you continue at The Wells!’
With its historic Islington base and a West End platform at Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells’ London theatres attract audiences of over half a million each year, with many more visiting its internationally touring productions or exploring its digital platforms.
Spalding’s vision and commitment has always been to discover and nurture new talent. In 2005, he created the Associate Artists programme which represents some the most exciting artists working in dance today.
‘Alistair is such an ambitious and inclusive leader; he takes the risks without knowing if they will pay off but undoubtedly believes in either the artist or the work. I can’t thank him enough for the support and encouragement he has shown me during my career; because of him, Sadler’s Wells feels more like a homecoming than a building – congratulations Alistair, here is to the next chapter’.
He has also launched projects such as the international festival of hip-hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, and the Flamenco Festival London, as well as inviting New Adventures, Company Wayne McGregor and ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company to become Sadler’s Wells’ Resident Companies and English National Ballet Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Company. He was instrumental in initiating Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK’s production of Sting’s Message In A Bottle, created by Kate Prince, for the West End and plans an ambitious international tour for 2022/3.
Under Spalding’s direction, Sadler’s Wells has now embarked on the most significant development in its history: the creation of Sadler’s Wells East to support the next generation of artist development and training, and the creation of dynamic new work. Opening in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2023, the new venue is part of the East Bank development along with the BBC, University of the Arts London College of Fashion, University College London and V&A East.
Sadler’s Wells East will be permanent home to the Hip Hop Theatre Academy and Choreographic School and will build the infrastructure for dance to make it accessible to more people. Community will be at the heart of the new development, with a large open foyer that can be used by everyone, as a meeting or performance space. There will also be dance studios and world-class dance facilities for dancemakers to train, create and rehearse productions. The project will touch the lives of everyone living on, working in and visiting the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director, English National Ballet:
‘The impact of Alistair in the UK dance scene cannot be underestimated. His foresight in recognising chorographic talent and determination in supporting creativity and risk taking has been unparalleled and will leave a legacy for decades to come. Thank you, Alistair and congratulations Sir!!’
Nigel Higgins, Chair, Sadler’s Wells said:
‘Alistair is that rare character – a genuine visionary in the performing arts world. Thanks to his leadership and creativity Sadler’s Wells has become a British beacon of the thriving home and international dance community. In a couple of years, the opening of our new venue in Stratford, East London will further underline his tireless efforts to build new audiences and encourage the dance talent of tomorrow. This honour is more than deserved’.
Alistair Spalding CBE said:
‘It is a great honour to have the work of Sadler’s Wells recognised in this way. It has presented and invested in more new dance than any other theatre in the world. Dance is now one of the most popular art forms in this country. I believe this award is an indication that our vibrant dance culture goes from strength to strength, and that our ambitious plans for Sadler’s Wells East will inspire and nurture a new generation. Dance is, of course a team effort, and the honour is very much shared with my wonderful team at Sadler’s and our artists and collaborators’.
From everyone at Sadler’s Wells, we would like to say a huge congratulations to Alistair Spalding on his Knighthood.