Alistair Spalding and Sarah Crompton
How Sadler's Wells is responding to the COVID-19 crisis
Broadcaster and writer Sarah Crompton interviews Sadler’s Wells Alistair Spalding on how the dance theatre is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Alistair Spalding has been Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells theatre in London since 2004. Under Alistair, Sadler’s Wells has become a world-leading dance house, presenting a diverse programme of dance and hosting first-class UK and international companies and artists, such as Nederlands Dans Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. The theatre welcomes audiences of over 500,000 in London and attracts touring audiences of over 130,000 each year.
In 2005, Spalding announced his vision for Sadler’s Wells to become a producing house. He has since driven the commissioning, producing and co-producing of more than 170 shows, including acclaimed cross-art form collaborations Sutra and m¡longa, and William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance.
Alistair also created the position of Associate Artist to the theatre which currently supports some of the world’s most exciting creative talent in the industry. He also initiated several ground-breaking annual festivals, including the critically acclaimed international festival of hip-hop dance theatre Breakin’ Convention.
Alistair holds honorary doctorates from Middlesex University (2012), the University of Hertfordshire (2014) and the University of Roehampton (2015). He was a national member of the Arts Council England Council from 2009 to 2017, and a member of the Arts Council England Dance Advisory Panel between 1995 and 2003. He was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2005 and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2012, for services to dance.
In 2019, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) in recognition of “unique lifetime achievement that has enriched the international performing arts”.
Sarah Crompton is one of Britain’s most respected writers and broadcasters, commentating on all aspects of culture and the arts. Her work appears in the Guardian, the Sunday Times, The Times, the Observer, British and American Vogue, the Economist magazine, and the Evening Standard among others. She also reviews theatre for Whatsonstage and dance for the Observer. She is a regular contributor to the BBC’s Front Row and Saturday Review and is much in demand as a chair and host of events, both interviews and discussions.
She was previously the Arts Editor in Chief of the Daily Telegraph, and a contributor to BBC2’s The Review Show. She also wrote a sports column for many years. Her first book was Sadler’s Wells: Dance House, a study of the recent creative history of Sadler’s Wells. She was a long-serving judge on the South Bank Show awards and has also been on the panel to choose the Art Fund Museum of the Year. She was a trustee of the Dulwich Picture Gallery for nine years. She is co-chair of the WOW Creative Industries awards.
Born in Manchester, she was educated at Hertford College, Oxford, and University College, Cardiff, before beginning her career on the Coventry Evening Telegraph. She worked for women’s magazines and the Telegraph Magazine before taking up the post of Arts Editor.
In recent years, she has specialised in chairing Q&As and discussions for a variety of organisations including BAFTA, the Old Vic, the Arts Council, Sadler’s Wells, the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and the Hay Festival.