East London Dance Extends Youth Dance Provision

On The Move, 2019. Photo by Chris O’Donovan

East London Dance is delighted to announce the major expansion of our youth dance provision following two successful grant awards from the Mayor of London’s Young Londoners Fund and Newham Council’s Newham Enrichment Fund

These two grants – totalling just over £200,000 – will allow East London Dance to provide aspirational, accessible and creative activities to help support young people to make positive choices, reach their potential, experience diversity and culture, and develop their creativity.

Informed by young people’s experiences and expertise, East London Dance will introduce a brand new offer of dance and technology across two key programmes to engage young people aged 9-16 in east London. In advance of this major roll-out, East London Dance has appointed its first full-time Youth Support Worker to work alongside the dance teams to support young people to reach their potential and overcome barriers. 

Funded for the next three years with a £150,000 grant from the Mayor of London’s Young Londoners Fund, VR Dance will offer weekly classes, holiday programmes, residentials and training to young people from Newham and Redbridge who are on the fringes of education and at risk of criminal exploitation. The programme aims to build a community of local young people aged 10-16 who will support their fellow participants to develop creativity, leadership and resilience.

In partnership with Bristol University, the programme will combine the latest immersive technology with physical performance allowing participants to create alternative realities which will explore and expand the range of possibilities available to them. The participants will share these experiences with their peers to encourage a wider conversation about positive and creative choices.

Polly Risbridger, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, East London Dance said:
“This major grant from the Mayor of London allows us to continue tackling social issues through the transformative power of dance. 

The funding will support the expansion of the vital grassroots work within our local community; the removal of financial barriers; and the introduction of cutting-edge technology to our activities to further engage and inspire the young people we work with.

This grant, alongside additional funding from the Mayor of London towards our first dedicated home in a repurposed historic east end building, demonstrates immense confidence in the positive social, creative, and mental and physical health impact that the work we do has on our beneficiaries.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“It is vital we help young people make the right choices as early as possible. That means investing in our young people to give them positive opportunities and to learn from the right type of mentors. Our Young Londoners Fund was created to provide young people with positive alternatives to crime.”

See the Mayor of London’s full quote in the Young Londoners press release here (6 Feb).

Professor Debbie Watson, University of Bristol said:
“We are very excited to be part of this innovative project to engage young people as meaning-makers of their own everyday experiences through dance and immersive technologies. These combined media have huge potential to offer alternative ways for young people to think about the social and peer pressures around them.”

Newham Council’s Newham Enrichment funding of £58,500 will allow East London Dance’s current programme On The Move, which delivers free dance opportunities for children and young people in Newham, to be expanded over the next 12 months to include targeted opportunities for boys aged 9-14, and a pilot dance offer for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Molly Sanders, Programme Director, East London Dance said:
“The Newham Enrichment Grant will build on more than three decades working in the borough to provide people with inspirational and accessible arts experiences and opportunities. Through our existing programmes we have seen the immense impact cultural engagement has had on the health and wellbeing of young people. 

This grant will enable us to extend our work with young people across the borough, offering dance classes and cultural activity in areas of low existing provision and to those least likely to engage. We wholeheartedly champion Newham Council’s investment in the cultural education of young residents and are thrilled to be working with them and contributing to this pilot programme.”

Councillor Jane Lofthouse, Deputy Cabinet Member for Education said:
“The new enrichment offer will support children and young people across Newham to further develop their creative potential and take advantage of the richness of our already culturally vibrant borough. We want everyone participating to fully experience the broad range of high quality activities on offer on their doorstep, learn new and valuable skills along the way and thoroughly enjoy the journey.”

If interested in getting involved in future opportunities or supporting this activity, please join our mailing list or visit our Support Us page.