Futures: Breaking Ground at East Bank
I attended a really positive event today in Stratford, where the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, broke ground to mark the start of construction on East Bank - the country’s new culture and education district at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The £1.1 bn project brings together a new campus for London College of Fashion (UAL), BBC recording studios, campus for the University College London (UCL), a mid-scale dance theatre for Sadler’s Wells, and two new V&A sites - a museum at Stratford Waterfront including a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, and a collection and research centre at Here East.
The prospect of East Bank has loomed over the whole college since the beginning of my time at LCF. In fact, the joint presence for LCF and Sadler’s Wells at the Olympic Park was what brought me to LCF in the first place! As part of the application for their joint funded PhD award, I had to fully consider the potential synergies of the Sadler’s Wells and LCF partnership in the new East Bank context. The partners wanted innovative proposals that spanned research into historical and contemporary performance practices and cultures, perhaps with focal points including: relevant archives, design for performance costume, new media and technology. Amazingly, my proposal managed to tick all of those boxes and I became the first to receive this partnership award.
Taking to the podium, the Mayor announced a whopping £10m funding package from Westfield Stratford City. This new funding will help to support local arts and culture groups across Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Hackney, as well as helping to provide paid internships and training opportunities across East London. Following his speech, Sadiq was joined at the site by local schoolchildren as they buried a time capsule symbolising the huge impact the project will have on the capital’s future generations.
The construction programme will see more than 1.500 people working on site, at least 30 percent of whom will be local residents, and more than 125 apprentices will be working on the site every year until it’s completion. Work will be completed in phases with Sadler’s Wells, UCL and LCF opening their buildings first in 2022, and then the BBC and the V&A in 2023.
I hope that East Bank encourages young people in the area (and beyond) to pursue their creative ambitions. I’m really looking forward to working with the local community in and around Stratford in the near future, since many of London’s key hip-hop figures emerged from the East, having been nurtured by local groups. Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for East Bank. I personally cannot wait to see how things unfold, or rather, take shape, in front of our very eyes over the coming months.