5 July 2022, London – The Talent House, a new £4.1 million state-of-the-art creative hub from East London Dance and leading national youth music organisation, UD, has officially been opened in Stratford by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. 

The new hub will equip young diverse talent in east London to become the next generation of music and dance professionals by providing free and affordable access to world class facilities as a launchpad to reach new audiences, alongside facilitating collaboration between young people and early career creatives and producers.

The five-year capital project, launched with initial funding from Arts Council England and the Greater London Authority (GLA), brings East London Dance and UD together under one roof. The Talent House will welcome more than 12,000 people every year with an inspirational public programme, co-curated with young people, artists and local residents.

Equipping young diverse talent in east London to become the next generation of music and dance professionals

The Talent House will enable the two organisations, both long-standing champions of the next generation of artists, entrepreneurs and creative leaders, to support even more outstanding but under-represented talent. From schools outreach and skills programmes to industry networks and professional development opportunities, East London Dance and UD will continue to nurture the confidence of young creatives and support them to build sustainable careers, acting as a pivotal player in the talent development pipeline of the next generation of music and dance professionals.

Providing free and affordable access to world class facilities as a launchpad for young creatives to reach new audiences

With professional rehearsal spaces and digital broadcast capability throughout the building, brand new creations and collaborations from bold, authentic and blazingly contemporary east London dance and music creatives will have a vital launchpad to reach new audiences locally, nationally and internationally. More than 2,100 hours of free access to the building with its facilities will be made available to locally-based independent artists and young participants every year.

Facilitating collaboration between young people and early career creatives and producers

An engine room for creativity, the Talent House will create opportunities for early career and more established dance and music artists and professionals to connect with one another, to be inspired and create, as well as encouraging the cross-pollination of talent, ideas, conversation and performance between art forms.

Designed by Waugh Thistleton with internal design by award-winning architect Katy Marks from Citizens Design Bureau, and located within a new development by Vastint UK, the three-storey building housed in an historic warehouse with a modern extension was repurposed by specialist fit-out contractors ITC. The building comprises two dance studios, five music production/recording studios, a live room and two vocal booths, a large flexible rehearsal/events space and a tech lab for education and training. The design also includes a co-working space for artists and members, and a central atrium functioning as the main reception and multi-use space for dance jams and informal gigs.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Culture is at the heart of what makes London the greatest city in the world, which is why I’m delighted to officially open Talent House. London’s music and dance scene is thriving, but these companies need a home to nurture and support talent, so I’m proud to have invested in this state of the art facility, which will not only be a springboard for creatives and performers in Newham and across the city, but help to cement London as the creative capital of the world. Investment like this is essential for our city’s recovery and a key part of building a better London for everyone.”

Tia Hassan & Kate Scanlan, Joint Creative Director & Chief Executive, East London Dance said: “For more than three decades, East London Dance has played a central role in the development of dance in east London – nurturing, showcasing and championing young and emerging artists and creatives from black, Asian, ethnically diverse and working-class communities. With the Talent House, our first dedicated home, we are energised like never before to create a world where creative talent is always met with opportunity, no matter where you come from. We’re committed to artist-led and co-designed programmes and to ensuring that the Talent House is a welcoming and open space for people to gather, connect, learn, collaborate and share their creativity with the world – so come and get involved.”

Pamela McCormick, Founder and CEO, UD said: Over the last 20+ years, UD has seen the potential for excellence in every young person we’ve encountered. Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.  We know that the specific training needs demanded of Black music are not met by music education; there is a lack of strategic talent development in Black music, with many artists unable to achieve sustainable careers without subsidised intervention; and, whilst Black music has never been more commercially successful in the UK, only a small percentage of the workforce is from communities experiencing racial inequality or barriers to social mobility. As we move into the Talent House, we are poised to realise the potential that this new state-of-the-art resource can bring to transforming the lives of young people, challenging the outdated traditions of music education, and diversifying the face of the music industry.” 

Michael Cronin, Head of UK Portfolio, Vastint said “We are delighted to welcome UD Music back to Sugar House Island, alongside East London Dance, to create a place which will support and inspire the local community.  It is fitting that this partnership comes together under the roof of a building which has witnessed the Island’s long-standing history of creativity and collaboration and we look forward to playing host to upcoming talent from across the capital.”

To mark the opening of the Talent House, East London Dance will launch a series of programmes and initiatives for the local creative community, including:

  • The East London Dance Membership Scheme for dance creatives to share the building space and ideas with their dance peers alongside music creatives from UD’s membership scheme, creating an environment that fosters cross-arts collaboration.
  • Week-long takeovers of the studio space by untapped local dance creatives, as part of the OUR HOUSE programme, will give artists a platform and support to curate and create work for and by their communities.
  • Building on previous artist leadership and career support programmes, Producer House, will focus on upskilling and promoting a new generation of creative producers from the hip hop dance scene. 
  • Providing local young people with free access to dance activity and training, to support physical and mental wellbeing.

UD will further its strategy to create accessible, structured and sustainable pathways for Black music, anchored in the community at the Talent House but with national profile and reach.  The programme will kickstart with:

  • New level 4 (Degree Year 1) artist development/music business courses, CertHE Music Performance & Production, CertHE Music Technology & Production, awarded by the University of East London and supported by music industry partners.
  • New subsidised membership scheme for Black music creatives and SME start-ups offering free access to resources (co-working space, studios), masterclasses,  business support, networking and showcasing events. 
  • Industry Takeover, UD’s annual conference with keynote talks by Black music leaders, panels debating politics predicting trends, ‘How to Steal My Job’ break-out workshops, 121 ‘Ask the Expert’ surgeries, showcases featuring cutting-edge underground talent, industry marketplace, and networking. 
  • New youth access programme offering sustained first access classes and projects, targeted at age 16–19 from Host Olympic Boroughs. 
  • Existing pan London projects will relocate to the Talent House.  Flames Collective, UD’s flagship pre-vocational creative development programme for emerging songwriters and vocalists age 14 to 19, and its Incubator/Accelerator scheme offering individual packages reflecting in-depth needs assessment and offering long-term ‘advanced level’ development typically unavailable to emerging artist producers.

The Talent House has been made possible with the support of Arts Council England; Greater London Authority; London Legacy Development Corporation; London Borough of Newham; Vastint UK; Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund, funded by Westfield Stratford City and delivered by Foundation for Future London; London Marathon Charitable Trust; The Linbury Trust; The Foyle Foundation; Cockayne – Grants for the Arts & London Community Foundation; PPL; Arts & Culture Impact Fund by Nesta; and CMS Law. East London Dance and UD continue to fundraise for the final £350k to reach the £4.1m target for The Talent House.

Sugar House Island is a balanced, mixed-use development that has been carefully curated in line with Stratford’s regeneration as a hotspot for successful, forward-thinking creative businesses and communities. Newham was recently named a Priority Place for Arts Council funding.