The impressive council-led project spans five historic industrial buildings on the Royal Arsenal and will be home to Chineke! Orchestra, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, Punchdrunk and the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair
Woolwich Works is a landmark, 31.59 million pound restoration of historical industrial buildings on the Royal Arsenal. The project led by the Royal Borough of Greenwich is set to become London’s new cultural quarter for the arts. Woolwich Works will be home to large-scale concert venue, rehearsal and studio spaces. It will offer music, theatre, dance, spoken word, comedy, exhibitions and food and drink for London and beyond. It will also be home to a number of renowned performing arts companies and today announces NYJO as the latest resident artistic company.
NYJO are one of many local, national and internationally acclaimed artists in residence to call Woolwich Works their home including world-renowned theatre company Punchdrunk, Europe's first majority black and minority ethnic orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, as well as Greenwich-based dance company Luca Silvestrini's Protein and the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair. Set to open in Spring 2021, Woolwich Works will be a space for its community with local resident offers and community schemes announced later this year.
Founded in 1965, NYJO has grown from a jazz orchestra of young musicians, to a
multi-faceted organisation that seeks to both improve jazz education nationally, and nurture the talent of aspiring musicians at the start of their careers.
Woolwich Works will become NYJO’s first permanent home, but for Roger Wilson, Head of Professional Development, the area is a very familiar one: “I grew up in Woolwich back in the day when the area brought with it a lot of challenges. I’m under no illusion that many of these challenges are still present today and I want NYJO and Woolwich Works to provide meaningful opportunities for the local community. Woolwich is coming into the national focus and I’m really looking forward to seeing the area become the hub of arts activity. It’s very exciting to be back!”
All of Woolwich Work’s artists in residence will work with the local community on a number of projects once the district launches. NYJO will be working with the community to develop young people’s musical and social skills including a ‘creative jazz group’ offering young people in the area an opportunity to gain their first experience of performing with an ensemble. All of Woolwich Work’s artists in residence will work with the local community on a number of projects once the district launches.
Claire Furlong, Head of Learning & Participation at NYJO adds, “NYJO aims to become a valuable member of Woolwich’s vibrant creative community, and create musical experiences we hope will resonate with people locally, nationally and internationally.”
Commenting on the news, Valerie Vaughan-Dick, Woolwich Works’ Chair, says: ‘A partnership between Woolwich Works and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra is an exciting prospect for us to be able to support young musicians. We are honoured to be the new home for the next generation of jazz artists’ Woolwich Works is situated on the historic Royal Arsenal, which over the past 300 years has housed a firework factory, a theatre and the Royal Artillery Band. Woolwich Works will see five Grade II and Grade II* listed, industrial buildings on the site transformed into creative spaces, a hub for the local community and a cultural destination for the capital.
The new district will include:
- An impressive 1200 seated or 1800 standing performance venue
- An external courtyard for performances
- Five studios, which will also be used for performances and rehearsals spaces
- A cafe, bar and spaces for community groups as well as hire for weddings, parties, conferences and events
Woolwich Works is actively working to create a diverse range of opportunities that will be accessible to those that may not otherwise benefit from them. The project will be working with the local community and schools as well as creating jobs in the area with meaningful progression routes into the creative industries.
Originally due to launch in 2020, Woolwich Works is now confirmed to open in Spring 2021, after delays to construction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something that has had a hugely detrimental impact on the UK’s arts and creative industries.
Speaking about the launch in the wake of the pandemic, James Heaton, Woolwich Works Chief Executive, comments:
"Some people may wonder whether now’s the right time to be launching a new cultural hub, given everything that’s going on in the world. Certainly, the context in which we’re doing so is very different to that we’d expected – and a huge amount of thought, soul-searching, and analysis has gone into reviewing our plans for Woolwich Works and re-evaluating our role post Covid-19. But ultimately, we are founded on the power of the arts and culture to transform lives: to inspire people to imagine, create and innovate; to build confidence, enable communication and drive collaboration; to empower and make change; and to create jobs and act as a catalyst for economic regeneration."
Cllr Adel Khaireh, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities , adds: “Woolwich Works will become a crucial resource for both the creative sector and residents of Royal Greenwich in the wake of the pandemic. Not only will it be an incredible venue for music, art and theatre, it will also become a major employer providing local jobs, education opportunities and attracting investment to the area too. It will be fantastic to have London’s most exciting new arts destination on our doorstep when it launches next spring, providing access to an abundance of arts and cultural opportunities for our residents and beyond.”
Woolwich Works is a landmark, multi-million pound restoration project by Royal Borough of Greenwich to transform the historic site of Royal Arsenal into a new 15,000sqm creative district for London.
A multi-disciplinary arts hub, the site will include theatres, concert venues, dance studios, a recording studio, offices and places to entertain. The flexible spaces provide opportunities for public interaction, training and education, as well as being available to hire for weddings, parties, conferences, community meetings and events. The district will support the local community, enabling people to realise their creative potential, providing a platform for emerging talent, creating and delivering work-based learning, and supporting cultural and community organisations and initiatives.
The project, with the launch of Crossrail, will have a significant economic impact on Woolwich and the surrounding borough when it opens in 2021.
Woolwich Works will be managed by an independent trust, Woolwich Creative District Trust, when work is completed and will be chaired by Valerie Vaughan-Dick, with James Heaton as Chief Executive.Links
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