‘Trust your intuition’ Sadler’s Wells chief Alistair Spalding tells graduates

The Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells, Alistair Spalding, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Roehampton, in tribute to his exceptional success and commitment to dance over 15 years at the theatre.

Posted: 29 July 2015

image for news story ‘Trust your intuition’ Sadler’s Wells chief  Alistair Spalding tells graduates
Alistair Spalding, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Sadler's Wells, who received an honorary doctorate by the University at it's graduation ceremony this week

Giving advice to more than 300 graduating students during a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Mr Spalding told them to keep looking until they find the one thing which they really, really loved doing, work hard at it, and trust their instincts in making decisions.

Mr Spalding joined Sadler’s Wells in 2000 as Director of Programming, and became chief executive and artistic director five years later. He announced his vision for Sadler’s Wells 10 years ago, saying: “You’ve got the National Theatre for drama, the English National Opera for opera and I want Sadler’s Wells to perform that same function for dance.”

Commentary: Dr Ann R David, Head of the Department of Dance

“To my mind, Alistair Spalding is certainly an influential figure in the dance world today. His life-long love affair for dance has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to watch a wide spectrum of dance performances. He has supported contemporary dance in this country, and demonstrated to many how passion can become a fruitful career. He has successfully balanced creativity and business intuition, which makes his success at Sadler’s Wells even more creditable.”

After becoming chief executive and artistic director, Mr Spalding brought in associate artists Matthew Bourne, the Ballet Boyz, Jonzi D, Wayne McGregor and Akram Khan, choreographers who have subsequently changed the face of dance. Ticket sales rose by 40 per cent and audiences were healthy, bringing the theatre out of a difficult financial period. Between Mr Spalding’s arrival in 2004 and 2012, audience numbers doubled.

Good business sense has seen Mr Spalding develop successful links with theatres worldwide so productions commissioned by Sadler’s Wells now tour internationally. As well as an international outlook, Sadler’s Wells is due to open a 600-seat theatre in Stratford at the Olympic Park. There will be a choreographic school, and a hip-hop academy alongside a new centre for the V&A.

Read about how you could study in Roehampton's Department of Dance.

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