Published: Friday, 8th February 2019
Pioneering theatre company Punchdrunk is poised to make Woolwich its new home later this year subject to final Council approval. *
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has today revealed further plans for Woolwich Creative District, a new landmark destination for the arts opening in 2020.
Following a recent tour of schools throughout the borough with The Lost Lending Library, Punchdrunk is today announced as the latest company to relocate to Woolwich Creative District. Moving from the company’s current Tottenham base to a newly developed space, Punchdrunk will join a host of local, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists as a resident.
boundary pushing theatre
With almost twenty years’ experience creating boundary pushing theatre, Punchdrunk is globally renowned for productions such as Sleep No More (running in New York since 2011 and Shanghai since 2016) and The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable (London), Punchdrunk’s Enrichment projects create imaginative work with the same commitment to design and performance, targeted at schools and communities. Created with and for children, young people and participants, the ethos of this work aligns with Royal Borough of Greenwich’s commitment to placing the local community at the heart of Woolwich Creative District.
'a new chapter in this history of Woolwich'
Council Leader Danny Thorpe said: "The development of Woolwich Creative District begins a new chapter in this history of Woolwich and will make the town a destination for Londoners and visitors from across the country. Punchdrunk is a truly world class organisation and I’m thrilled that so many internationally renowned artists and companies are making Woolwich their home; cementing its position as a new cultural hub, which will benefit communities across the wider borough. We are absolutely committed to ensuring local people feel the effects of this development by embedding community benefits into leases and contracts across the board."
'we're proud to be joining a vibrant arts community'
Peter Higgin, Director of Enrichment at Punchdrunk, said: "At Punchdrunk we’re really looking forward to moving our company base to Woolwich and joining the Creative District. We've already started work in the borough, touring our flagship literacy project The Lost Lending Library to primary schools and we're looking forward to developing new projects with children, young people and the local community. It's an exciting time for Woolwich and we're proud to be joining a vibrant arts community."
Previously announced resident companies include Europe’s first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, Woolwich-based Protein Dance and the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, with further residents to be revealed. More details on resident companies’ plans will be announced in due course.
Trust's chair announced
Today it is also announced that the Operating Trust will be chaired by Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick. Chief Operating Officer at the Royal College of General Practitioners, Valerie has had a successful career with multiple roles at a senior level in the public, private and voluntary sectors over 30 years. Further appointments to be announced.
Phase 1 underway
With Phase 1 building work now underway on site, the Royal Borough of Greenwich has commissioned an interactive photography project which will be displayed on the perimeter’s hoardings. Residents of Woolwich, and the surrounding area, and those taking part in activities in the area are the subjects for this project which will be publicly displayed from March. As well as being photographed, each of them spoke about what they’re hoping for from the development. Scores of locals have contributed to the project; from Lesley, landlady of the Earl of Chatham in Woolwich, who said "to actually have performances on your doorstep will be really good" to Stephen, an artist from Thames-Side Studios, explaining "there’s a huge arts community here. Hidden." Visitors and passers-by can scan QR codes displayed with the portraits to instantly listen to the subjects' stories.
A hugely ambitious cultural development
Woolwich Creative District is a hugely ambitious cultural development, comprising five buildings, totalling some 15,000sqm. The Royal Borough of Greenwich has allocated over £31 million for this project, an investment which hopes to deliver 400 new jobs, increase local revenue and drive up tourism in the town. Following a successful planning application process, works have already begun on site. Architects Bennetts Associates and recently appointed contractors Mace will work to realise the vision of creating a cultural destination on this ex-military, heritage site.
'an extraordinary fusion of heritage, fine spaces, industrial sheds'
Rab Bennetts said: “The five listed buildings that comprise the Woolwich Creative District are an extraordinary fusion of heritage, fine spaces, industrial sheds and new additions. It will be thrilling to see them come alive with visual and performing arts, placing the public at the centre of the Woolwich Arsenal project. It is also extremely rare but hugely impressive to see a local authority such as Royal Borough of Greenwich recognise the significance of cultural projects to urban regeneration by funding major cultural facilities on this scale.”
About Woolwich Creative District
Woolwich Creative District will be a creative hub in the heart of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. This influx of cultural events, companies, activities and spaces to newly renovated heritage buildings will restore the area’s creative profile and drive audiences to experience internationally acclaimed music, dance, theatre and art against a historically significant backdrop. In addition to providing a cultural resource for the local community, the site will attract visitors from across London, the UK and beyond and with the introduction of Crossrail, Woolwich will be easier to get to than ever.
Phase 1 work has commenced to transform the five Grade II listed buildings with three of the buildings set aside for Punchdrunk's use. This phase will also see the creation of:
- A versatile venue in Building 41, seating 800 – 1200 or with a 1800 standing capacity, linking directly to an open air courtyard capable of holding formal events for 500+ people;
- Three professional studios in Building 41 (two of which can be joined to make one very large studio);
- Two community studios in Building 41;
- Three professional / education studios in Building 40;
- Two reception spaces specifically set aside for commercial use (overlooking the River Thames and the internal courtyard); and
- Generous public spaces and a cafe / bar.
Phase 1 work will be completed during 2020.
* Please note, the residency is currently subject to 'call in' process before the final lease agreement will be signed