Birmingham Royal Ballet
The ballet company used a loan to re-imagine its iconic production…
The dance organisation used a cashflow loan to complete the construction of its new studio space in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Studio Wayne McGregor is a well-established dance company and charity based in London, building on the work of trailblazing choreographer and director Wayne McGregor.
Formed in 1992, the ten strong company of dancers, Company Wayne McGregor, spends over half of the year on tour, travelling around the UK and internationally. Wayne McGregor choreographs all new work with and for the ensemble and his creative vision, informed by scientific research into the nature of movement and creativity, has earned him numerous awards over the years, including a CBE for his service to dance. His acclaim has resulted in numerous high-profile commissions within the worlds of dance, film and music as well as many multidisciplinary creative collaborations, in which company dancers also take part.
Running parallel with Studio Wayne McGregor’s performance work is its Learning and Engagement programme, which sees the organisation collaborate with local authorities, schools and other charities to create educational and community dance projects to empower young people and adults, raise their aspirations and improve their well-being by helping them connect with their inner creativity. The projects invariably draw on the artistic process used by Wayne McGregor in his professional work and leave a strong impression on participants, many of whom have not engaged in dance previously.
In 2017, Studio Wayne McGregor completed a £5.4m capital development to create a permanent space for its dance company and administrative team in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Having faced a shortfall in fundraising, it approached the Arts Impact Fund for cashflow support to enable the final stages of the work to continue uninterrupted. Thanks, in part, to a £500,000 loan we were able to offer the charity, the new site opened successfully in March 2017, making Studio Wayne McGregor the first cultural organisation to settle in the Olympic Park.
Having its own headquarters will allow the organisation to focus its creative energy under one roof, be more proactive in terms of setting its social impact agenda and pioneer new ways of working with artists. Studio Wayne McGregor will use its new home to further its creative explorations at the cusp of dance and science and take new creative risks that stretch the boundaries of the art form. Situated within the Here East complex in the Olympic Park presents a valuable opportunity to collaborate with other resident organisations, among whom are several forward-thinking technology and science-based companies and academic institutions.
"Having its own headquarters will allow the organisation to focus its creative energy under one roof, be more proactive in terms of setting its social impact agenda and pioneer new ways of working with artists."
The space has also made it possible for Studio Wayne McGregor to launch an ambitious new artist development and community engagement initiative – FreeSpace. This cornerstone programme gives up to five weeks of free studio space use (up to 5000 hours each year) to choreographic artists, emerging or more established, to develop new work, rehearse or experiment creatively, at any stage of development and with no demand on the final outcome. In exchange, the choreographers and dancers are asked to give back some of their time and expertise to deliver one to five days of creative learning and engagement activities for local schools and communities. This innovative approach will create not only significant social and artistic benefits for those involved but will also help Studio Wayne McGregor set firm roots in East London and establish a growing community of partners and collaborators.
Studio Wayne McGregor is a sustainable organisation with a range of revenue sources and a steady growth trajectory over its lifetime. Reviewing the charity’s past financial performance, we were encouraged to see that around half of its income is earned from international touring or commercial activity. Going forward, this will be supplemented by opportunities to generate additional revenue from hiring out its new premises to other charities and commercial organisations, placing the organisation in a stronger financial position overall. While Studio Wayne McGregor will still rely on fundraising to fully realise its ambitions, the Arts Impact Fund’s team was impressed with the careful planning, clear direction and steady leadership of the management team which, together with the organisation’s strong creative assets, are the best preconditions for success.
Studio Wayne McGregor has a total of five years to repay its investment from Arts Impact Fund. During this period, our team will expect to see the organisation maintain its commitment to creative risk-taking and innovation, to cultivating artistic talent and changing people’s lives through the power of dance. We are positive that, at its new home, Studio Wayne McGregor will continue to build on its former achievements, and build a strong presence in the Olympic Park and East London community.