In a bid to reach new audiences, Sadler’s Wells is spicing things up with the announcement of its first full off-site season.
The 12-performance line-up will include cross-medium ventures, the young and the avant garde, in seven venues across London.
Hofesh Shechter will present his show Choreographer’s Cut at Camden’s Roundhouse in February - a massive production featuring 16 dancers and 20 musicians that he promises will be more like a music gig - while the works of William Forsythe will feature in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, South London Gallery, Midland Goods Shed in St Pancras and even clubbing hotspot Fabric
Meanwhile, the Young Vic is to join forces with Sadler’s Wells to create Pictures from an Exhibition, the Clod Ensemble will take over Victorian warehouse the Village Underground in Shoreditch to present Under Glass, and a series of performances will be held at the London Coliseum.
Given the economic climate, it’s a gutsy plan. Even Sadler’s Wells chief executive and artistic director Alistair Spalding admitted just this week that the venture would be an expensive one. But, he also added that now was the best time to expand and diversify, and attract new audiences.
And he’s right - the off-site season is bound to reel in those who might not otherwise consider coming to Sadler’s Wells, whether it is because they think dance is not for them, or because a lot of people still find such buildings intimidating.
The season is pretty exciting and unconventional in terms of its line up, with its pendulums, helium balloons and multi-media installations. The venues - decidedly much hipper than the average dance venue - are likely to attract a young and trendy crowd, while the collaborative projects with some of the capital’s leading arts organisations will entice those interested in the visual arts, music and theatre.
But there is a question of sustainability here. What will the venue do to bring the audiences back?
Yes the season might be about introducing people to dance and Sadler’s Wells, but surely with a recession looming, you want to build an expanded audience who will return to spend their pennies (..ahem). Let’s not beat around the bush - this is a commercial venture after all.
Is this a flash in the pan, or an idea that will continue to grow both in frequency and geography (let’s not forgot about the regions here)? Or, will the trendy, young things of London be immediately wowed by Forsythe? Time will tell.