Joint funding secured to create new home for East London Dance and Urban Development


On Wednesday 7 March 2018 we were thrilled to announce that we have secured joint funding from the Mayor of London’s Greater London Authority (GLA) Good Growth Fund for £1 million, to create the UK’s first National Talent House for urban culture in Stratford, alongside music talent development organisation, talent incubator and educator Urban Development.

The GLA funding will match £1 million (£500,000 per organisation) already secured from the Arts Council England Small Capital Grants programme in 2017 and will enable the fit-out of a 1,000+ square metre historic warehouse and modern extension as part of the Sugar House Island Development (formerly Strand East) adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that will be delivered by developers Vastint UK.

Inspired by the need to ensure that diverse and disadvantaged young people from east London benefit from the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the centre will offer an aspirational space to unlock the potential of musicians, singer songwriters, composers, dancers, choreographers and producers and enable progression to further/higher education, employment and enterprise. It will also be an incubation hub with strong industry links for innovation in the creative industries, launching new projects, products and careers.

East London Dance and Urban Development are leading exponents of urban culture and drive the vital diversification of the dance and music sectors, through investment in nurturing and championing new voices and providing platforms to gain recognition. Building on nearly two decades of collaboration, both organisations will share the building that will become their new permanent home – enabling the growth and sustainability of their vital work engaging and developing diverse young talent aged 14–30 years. 

“As East London Dance celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018, we are overjoyed at the support and commitment the Mayor of London and Arts Council England have offered in helping us realise our ambitions for the next 30 years. This building will not only provide a new home for East London Dance and Urban Development but will be an authentic space that listens and responds to artists, young people and the local community. It will spearhead the creation of a vibrant new creative hub at Sugar House Island and create a home and meeting point for the urban arts community.”

Polly Risbridger, Director, East London Dance

“We are proud to team up with East London Dance for this, our biggest undertaking yet, that will be the catalyst for the emergence of a new creative community in the area. Our programme will complement and support a well-developed programme, building on our collective strong local community roots, the new neighbourhood at Sugar House Island and the creative industries. The new building will make us fit-for-purpose, it will allow accessibility to talent, it will encourage diversity and connect London’s sub-cultures to new audiences, markets and opportunities. We would like to give our wholehearted thanks to the Mayor of London, GLA and Arts Council England for allowing us to realise our vision.”

Pamela McCormick, Director, Urban Development

“The Mayor and I are determined to use the Good Growth Fund to challenge preconceptions about how regeneration takes place. This project is a great example of how we can work with local communities and organisations such as Urban Development and East London Dance on projects in a way that will help ensure the benefits are felt by all.”

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, GLA

“I’m really excited about this partnership and what it means for talented urban culture artists. Talent need the opportunity to thrive and this development will be an important step in making that happen for so many people; one that we’re proud to make possible through our Small Capital Grants programme.”

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England

“Vastint is creating a new hub for the creative industries at Sugar House Island, a scheme that will bring over 2,500 new jobs in the area. We are delighted that this confirmation of funding will now enable us to conclude negotiations with two great organisations which are rooted in the local community. Both do so much for the young people of east London and will be fantastic assets at Sugar House Island. We hope they will be the first occupiers of Dane’s Yard, a collection of 8 buildings designed for, and dedicated to the creative industries.”

Andrew Cobden, Managing Director, Vastint UK

Award-winning east London-based architectural practice, Citizens Design Bureau has designed an interior which combines high performance recording suites and dance studios with spaces for collaborative working, creative conversation and performance; encouraging cross-fertilisation of talent and ideas between both organisations. Building works for the structure are underway and the internal works will commence later this year; estimated to finish in Spring 2019.

You can read the full press release here.