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UD Low Down: HRH The Princess Royal Launches UK Culture Exchange @ Talent House

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited East London on Friday 13th June to launch the second year of Foundation for Future London’s UK-wide youth programme, Culture Exchange. The programme is co-funded by Westfield Stratford City (WSC) through their collaborative and innovative Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund (WEBCFF).

Foundation for Future London is an independent charity established in 2015. The charity aims to connect the local communities of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with the new East Bank and its globally renowned arts, culture and educational partners to ensure equitable opportunities and fair regeneration in East London. They do this through a genuine commitment to an innovative participatory grant-making approach, capacity-building objectives and sustainable development.

As Patron for Foundation for Future London, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal met and awarded certificates to young people from the 2023 Culture Exchange pilot, who were part of a 50-strong cohort aged 18-25 from East London, Preston, Sheffield and Birmingham.

Culture Exchange is an innovative arts and cultural initiative for young people responding to the UK Levelling Up agenda. Devised by the Foundation, the programme aims to connect young people across the UK to engage in artistic, cultural, and digital media training. The programme is funded by WEBCFF, a five-year £10mn catalyst change programme designed to create inclusive social and economic value for the diverse boroughs surrounding East Bank: Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, and made possible through Westfield Stratford City’s transformative, innovative £10m donation in 2020. The Foundation commissioned an East London consortium led by Social Ark to co-design and facilitate the 2023 pilot. Year 2 will run from June to October 2024 and explore culture across Bradford, Nottingham and East London.

The visit was hosted at the Talent House, a pioneering music and dance hub based at 3 Sugar House Lane in Stratford, home to East London Dance and UD, both grant recipients from the Foundation for Future of London. UD is a London-based National Youth Music Organisation (NYMO) that brings communities together around Black music and Black music culture. East London Dance is here to champion and grow east London’s dance scene. The Talent House opened in 2022 and received a significant capital grant from WEBCFF towards its build.

While visiting the Talent House, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal saw inspiring dance, musical performances and demonstrations from talented young artists, dancers and creatives including:

Flames Collective, a choir and talent incubator established in 2016 by UD, aims to provide opportunities to young talent from inner-city secondary schools. This year, they’ve collaborated with multi-BRIT Award-winning artist RAYE, performing with her at The Brit Awards, The Jonathan Ross Show, and her sold-out show at The O2 arena.

Olu Alatise performing Imole, (Yoruba for ‘light’), a solo dance piece in response to depicting the element of fires, the subtlety, energetic force and power of fire and light.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was welcomed by Foundation for Future London’s CEO Sarah Nelson, Foundation for Future London’s Co-Chair Baroness Lola Young, and Deputy Lieutenant for Newham, Mr. Kim Bromley-Derry CBE DL.

Her Royal Highness also met key representatives from the Talent House, including East London Dance’s Creative Directors & Co-CEOs Kate Scanlan and Tia Hassan and Chair Jacqueline Rose and UD’s Founder and Director Pamela McCormick and Chair Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE; from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Director of UK Operations, Jacinta Rowsell and Head of Sustainability Alyson Hodkinson; and from East Bank, East Bank Director Tamsin Ace and Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, V&A, and Chair of East Bank Board Tim Reeve.

Sarah Nelson, CEO, Foundation for Future London said: “The visit from our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal signifies a remarkable milestone in our journey to transform East London through the arts and education.

“At Foundation for Future London, we remain steadfast in our commitment to nurturing creativity and facilitating meaningful opportunities across communities. Through initiatives like the Culture Exchange programme, and with the support of partners like Westfield Stratford City, we are not just dreaming about a brighter, more inclusive future, we are actively building it. This event encapsulates the potential of what we aim to accomplish.”

Jacinta Rowsell, Director of UK Operations, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “Today’s visit by Her Royal Highness highlights the impactful work of our Culture Exchange programme and the important role that creative industries play in the sustainable development of communities. It’s a privilege for Westfield to be an invested partner and driving force behind this initiative which celebrates creativity while fostering significant economic and social opportunities for the youth of East London and beyond.”

Lisa Stepanovic MBE, CEO of Social Ark said: “This event highlights the important work we’re doing through the Culture Exchange project. It’s about building bridges through arts and culture that forge new understanding and opportunities. We are excited to launch the second year of this project aiming to empower young individuals and stitch closer ties across East London and the wider UK.”

Tia Hassan & Kate Scanlan, Joint Creative Director & CEO, East London Dance said “East London Dance is proud to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to our home today. We are building a creative home for young people, local talent and the community at the Talent House. Along with our programmes, we are a catalyst for change, breaking down barriers and enriching the sector with new audiences, future talent and the creation of new dance theatre work by diverse local artists. We are thankful for the continued support of our work by Foundation for Future London to increase access to the creative industries.”

Pamela McCormick, Founder and Director, UD said: “It is a real honour for UD to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to the Talent House today to see our state of the art facilities for young people and to hear more about the work we do to develop and connect Black creative talent with paid opportunities in music and media. We’re proud to be at the heart of the creative community in London’s East Bank and are grateful to our friends at the Foundation for Future London, as well as our many industry partners and funders, for their continued support and engagement.”

For more information, see https://future.london/

Photography: Ann Marie Michel

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