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Sir Alistair Spalding CBE Artistic Director and Co-Chief Executive

Sir Alistair Spalding is Artistic Director and Co-Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, a role he has held since 2004.

A headshot of Sadler's Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Sir Sir Alistair Spalding
Sir Alistair Spalding © Cameron Slater

Under Spalding, Sadler’s Wells has become a world leader in contemporary dance. With three London theatres, a digital platform and productions that tour globally, Sadler’s Wells presents a highly ambitious programme of cutting-edge dance and high quality entertainment. It creates bold new productions and hosts world class international companies and artists including Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and Rosas.

Spalding has driven the production of more than 130 shows, which have been seen at Sadler’s Wells and at venues across the world. Celebrated productions include Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra, Crystal Pite’s Polaris, William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance, and Kate Prince and Sting’s Message in a Bottle. On Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage, works include Sadler’s Wells’ production of Pina Bausch’s Rite of Springfeaturing African dancers, filmed on a beach in Senegal at sunset, for Dancing at Dusk.

In 2012 Spalding announced his ambition for a new venue for Sadler’s Wells, to support artists and the creation of new work, and widen access to dance. Sadler’s Wells East opens in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, in 2024. It features a Hip Hop Theatre Academy, a Choreographic School, a theatre, dance studios, and a large open foyer that can be used by everyone as a meeting or performance space.

Spalding’s career began at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley. He was Head of Dance and Performance at the Southbank Centre in London from 1994 – 2000. He has led programming at Sadler’s Wells since February 2000 when he joined as Director of Programming, before becoming Artistic Director and Chief Executive in October 2004.

As well as accolades for Sadler’s Wells productions, Spalding’s personal awards and recognitions include being appointed as a national member of the Arts Council of England Board in January 2009. He was a member of the Arts Council England Dance Advisory Panel between 1995 and 2003. He was awarded Le Chevalier des Artes et Lettres by the French Embassy in October 2005. In 2012 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list and he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Middlesex University. He Received a Lifetime Achievement Award for from the International Performing Arts Society in 2019. He was knighted in the 2022 New Year’s honours list for services to dance.