Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hailed “the biggest investment in our city in culture and education for more than a century” as he joined Sadler’s Wells, BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the East Bank ground breaking ceremony. The exciting and transformative project will see a new cultural and education district built in Stratford, east London.

The Mayor was joined by deputy mayor for culture Justine Simons, Newham’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville and local schoolchildren as they buried a time capsule
at the UCL (University College London) East campus site – marking a milestone for the East Bank project and symbolising the positive impact it will have on future generations.

Deputy mayor for culture Justine Simons, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Newham’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville bury a time capsule to mark the start of construction of East Bank.

The historic moment was accompanied by a fanfare from a group of young east London musicians, specially commissioned by the BBC.

The East Bank project will bring together a collection of purpose-built spaces for its five partners, one of which will be our new venue, opening in 2022. As well as a 550-seat auditorium, Sadler’s Wells East will include six studios and support facilities for artist development and training, and for the creation of new dance work.

Render view of the Sadler’s Wells East building.

Britannia Morton, Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Operating Officer, said: “Our new mid-scale theatre represents a unique opportunity to place dance at the heart of what will be a global creative hub, allowing us to change the way we develop artists and to engage with a wider audience – on a local, national and international level.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My vision for East Bank is one where everyone, regardless of their background, can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep. East Bank is a fantastic collaboration of inter-disciplinary work and world-class institutions that will drive forward growth and inspire more young Londoners to take up creative careers, transforming the communities of east London.”

Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding (L) and COO Britannia Morton (R) join the Mayor of London, principals from the other East Bank partners and local school children for the groundbreaking. Image: Arts and Culture for Mayor of London.

Creating opportunities in the arts and cultural sector for young people represents an integral part of the project. Initiatives to nurture the next generation of creative professionals include STEP – a 12-month paid internship programme offered to young east Londoners, which Sadler’s Wells has supported as a founding partner with charity Create Jobs since its inception in 2017.

Andrew Adedipe talks about his experience as a STEP intern at Sadler’s Wells and the V&A at the reception for the groundbreaking event.

Ahead of opening the doors of our new venue in three years’ time, we have been working with the other East Bank partners and, more widely, with local schools, arts and community organisations. We regularly present dance in Stratford – most recently at Your Stratford Stage at IQL in May and The Great Get Together in the Olympic Park in June – and work in partnership with a number of east London schools to embed dance in the curriculum, as part of our Associate Schools initiative.

From 29 July to 9 August, we will also be running three different summer schools for young east Londoners – one of them, the East Education Summer School, delivered together with the East Bank partners – all of them free of charge for participants.