east london


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.

Sadler’s Wells supports young people to start a creative career

Sadler’s Wells has collaborated with London Legacy Development Corporation and Create Jobs for the second consecutive year to deliver the Creative Opportunity Programme – offering east London residents aged 18-30 information, inspiration and guidance on careers in the creative industries. Twenty-six young people joined the two-week programme in September, where they took part in workshops, visited arts organisations across London and were given practical advice on applying and interviewing for entry-level roles.

The programme aims to introduce young people to a wider range of opportunities and careers in the creative and cultural sector, from digital marketing to costume design, and provide them with the skills, insight and confidence to successfully apply for jobs.

Over the two weeks, the participants visited a number of cultural venues, hearing from members of different departments within each organisation, gaining an insight into the sector and any entry-level jobs, internships and apprenticeships available. Organisations taking part in the programme included Sadler’s Wells, Whitechapel Gallery, the V&A, Stratford Circus Arts Centre and The Backstage Centre, a production venue in Essex.

The workshops focused on employability, networking skills and professional impact. The young people learnt how to match their specific skills with job descriptions, how to perform in interview and assessment exercises and how to create a professional profile.

The group benefited from a confidence building session with Dramatic resources, a specialist training organisation that draws on theatre and performance techniques to enhance communication skills, as well as from a workshop from marketing consultancy Co-Relate, who worked with the group to create a live marketing campaign for Spitalfields Music, a music charity serving the local community in Tower Hamlets.

We hope that the programme will have inspired and emboldened the participants to pursue a career path within the arts and cultural sectors, and we are delighted that a number of participants have already gained employment and signed up for sessions with the National College Creative Industries. One participant has recently joined Sadler’s Wells as a Visitor Services Intern as part of the STEP programme – a 12 month paid internship where interns undertake placements at two London-based creative organisations.

Images: Francis Augusto Photography