Annual Review 2016-17

Posted on 9 October 2017


Sadler’s Wells today published its annual review for 2016-17, a year which saw 912 performances presented to a total audience of nearly 700,000 worldwide. In London, 121 productions were presented to over half a million people, across the three stages and at two other venues, the Platform Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall.

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding saidI’m delighted that in 2016-17 all of our audiences continued to grow: on site, off site, across London, abroad and digitally. One of the key ways we achieved this was by maintaining the quality of our programme through our investment in artists, bringing ground-breaking works to the stage, such as NoBody, Betroffenheit and Tree of Codes.

Making dance part of everyone’s life is extremely important to us and this work begins at home in Islington. I’m proud that for the second consecutive year we continued to offer more than 3,300 tickets to local low-income households through our community engagement scheme, Get Into Dance, and that we helped over 40 people to develop a career in dance through a range of opportunities from internships to apprenticeships and placements.

Details are published in the Sadler’s Wells’ Annual Review for 2016-17, which is online from Monday 9 October via

Highlights of 2016-17 include:

  • Extending the reach of work beyond London is important to Sadler’s Wells. Over 53,000 people in the UK saw one of Sadler’s Wells’ productions outside London. The theatre presented dance at Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire for the first time and returned to the Waterfront Stage at Latitude festival, Suffolk for a ninth year.
  • With Birmingham Hippodrome and The Lowry, Salford, Sadler’s Wells established The Movement, a producing partnership aimed at creating new dance work for large-scale stages, supporting emerging talent across the UK and increasing audiences and their engagement in dance. Jointly the venues presented Dance: Sampled in Salford and Birmingham and commissioned three emerging UK-based artists to create work for the programme.
  • Run by Sadler’s Wells, National Youth Dance Company performed In-Nocentes as part of their nine-venue national tour seen by 5,686 people, and delivered 18 experience workshops around England, offering 409 young dancers the chance to learn NYDC repertoire, meet company members and audition to join the next cohort of 40 dancers.
  • During the year the fourth NYDC cohort worked in partnership with TIN Arts in Durham, creating a new dance company of talented dancers with learning disabilities from the North East. NYDC extended and shared their model and learning, raising aspirations and investing in a new generation of young disabled dancers. The group created a new dance work, In the Frame inspired by NYDC’s production In-Nocentes, and joined the main company on tour, performing at Dance City in Newcastle and in the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells.
  • To mark Hull as UK City of Culture 2017, the fifth NYDC cohort delivered a project in partnership with Hull City Council and the Hull and East Riding Dance Hub. The company ran a professional development day for dance artists and teachers from across Hull, East Riding and Leeds, attended by 22 dance professionals. The NYDC-Hull project also brought together a group of young dancers from Hull and East Riding with professional dance artists, to devise a new piece inspired by NYDC’s latest production Tarantiseismic.
  • Sadler’s Wells maintained an ongoing commitment to affordable ticket prices, selling at least 10% of tickets for most main house shows at £12. It continued to offer more than 3,300 tickets to performances for £3 through Get into Dance, the theatre’s community engagement scheme targeted at residents from low-income households in Islington.
  • Access to dance was broadened through a host of learning and participation events, from pre and post-show talks to classes and workshops, which had over 36,000 attendances, engaging people of all ages and abilities in activities local to Sadler’s Wells and beyond. Large-scale community production Home Turf featured a cast of almost 100, ranging in age from 6 to 88.
  • As North London hub for the last edition of the Big Dance festival - the UK’s biggest celebration of the art form - Sadler’s Wells taught a new choreography by Akram Khan to over 1,100 participants of all ages from local schools, groups and community centres. 200 people came together at Sadler’s Wells to perform the piece simultaneously with 50,000 participants worldwide.
  • Sadler’s Wells videos received more than 4.6 million views on its website, YouTube channel and Facebook.
  • Over 93,900 people came to see Associate Artist Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes over the Christmas period, with a 98.3% capacity.
  • More than 3,200 people enjoyed the 13th edition of hip hop festival Breakin’ Convention at Sadler’s Wells with a further 2,800 people joining the fourth free Park Jam in Spa Fields, Islington.
  • International audiences were reached through 18 Sadler’s Wells productions touring to 35 venues in 21 countries, with 176 performances given to over 173,000 people 
  • Sadler’s Wells continued its artist development work including the emerging and early-career dance-makers it supports through its Wild Card, Open Art Surgery and Summer University initiatives, and through running the National Youth Dance Company. These programmes nurture the artists of the future. In 2016-17 a new cohort of 21 artists was welcomed to Summer University.
  • Throughout the year, 275 hours of in kind studio space, benefiting 40 artists, and 120 one-to-one advice sessions to artists were provided.
  • Sadler’s Wells commissioned or produced 16 new works, including Tree of Codes, created by Wayne McGregor with producer Jamie xx and artist Olafur Eliasson, bringing the total number of works the theatre has helped to bring to the stage since becoming a producing house in 2005 to over 140.
  • 300 UK and international artists were commissioned, including choreographers, composers, designers and dramaturges.
  • Plans to open a new venue in Stratford continued to progress, with the theatre engaging local audiences by developing joint programmes with partners in east London and taking part in cultural events in the area. Sadler’s Wells presented performances as part of the Big Lunch in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP), a free event for families and the local community that attracted over 8,000 people, and as part of the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival, held in QEOP on National Paralympic Day, showcasing the best talent in Deaf and disability arts.
  • Sadler’s Wells’ Breakin’ Convention team partnered with London Legacy Development Corporation on the Moving Rap project, engaging students from eight east London schools. Over eight weeks, professional hip hop dancers and MCs supported over 60 young people aged 11–14 to create a performance combining rap and dance for a showcase event at Here East in QEOP in May. Large-scale community dance production inspired by football and dance Home Turf, was delivered in collaboration with West Ham United Foundation.
  • The theatre took part in Creative and Cultural Opportunities Week, a pre-employability training programme for 18 to 24-year-olds living in four east London boroughs. Attendees were introduced to Sadler’s Wells’ work and employment opportunities available to them, received careers advice and guidance on how to apply for entry-level roles in the sector. All participants went on to further education or employment within the creative industries.
  • Sadler’s Wells was awarded an excellent four-star Creative Green rating based on the assessment of its environmental policy and action, the breadth and depth of its understanding of environmental impacts, and the extent to which the theatre uses data to inform its actions and track progress. It was subsequently nominated for a Creative Green Award, celebrating over 50 arts organisations undertaking Creative Green certification in 2016-17.


For press enquiries contact Sadler’s Wells’ Head of Media Relations, Abigail Desch: / 020 7863 8119 or Senior Press Manager, Caroline Ansdell: / 020 7863 8125