Spanning historic industrial buildings on the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, the landmark new culture hub will open its doors to the public on Thursday 23rd September 2021
The multi-million-pound council-led project will provide the local community and members of the public with flexible spaces for events, training, and education.
Featuring an impressive performance venue, external courtyard, dance rehearsal, and music studio spaces configured with Covid-19 guidelines in mind, Woolwich Works is London’s newest multi-disciplinary cultural hub for the arts.
Originally due to launch in 2020, Woolwich Works opening has been delayed by ongoing disruption to building works and increased safety measures as a result of Covid-19; something that has had a hugely detrimental impact on the UK’s arts and creative industries. With the majority of construction nearly complete, the internal fitting will soon begin followed by finishing touches – ready for guests to explore and enjoy this September.
Led by Royal Borough of Greenwich, Woolwich Works will be home to internationally acclaimed local performing arts companies including theatre Punchdrunk, Europe’s first majority black and minority ethnic orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, as well as National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), Greenwich-based dance company Protein, and the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair.
Speaking about the launch in the wake of the pandemic, James Heaton, Woolwich Works Chief Executive, comments: “The past year has been painful. Hardship, loss, and suffering are not the things that should be uniting people. That is the job of music, theatre, dance, circus, cabaret, and comedy – and now, finally, shows are coming back. I’m excited that our stunning new venue will play a part in supporting artists to get back on stage, and bringing audiences back together to once again share the unique experience of live performance.”
A thriving new space for the community, Woolwich Works will provide local residents access to music, theatre, dance, spoken word, comedy, exhibitions, food and drink, and much more. Woolwich Works and its artists in residence will work with the local community and schools on a wide range of projects and schemes once the district has officially launched, alongside creating jobs in the area with meaningful progression routes into the creative industries.
Commenting on the announcement, Valerie Vaughan-Dick, Woolwich Works’ Chair, says: ‘“We are so pleased to be at the stage that we can announce the opening of Woolwich Works. The team have been working hard and remained dynamic with plans throughout the unprecedented pandemic. As much as the delay is disappointing, we are going to be opening with the best start and are looking forward to honouring all of our objectives, especially targeting all aspects of diversity. We know employment numbers have been affected in the sector and we are in a great position to start tackling that challenge. Initiatives such as our ‘Step Up‘ programme and the relationships we are building with local colleges, training institutions and Universities will support this step change.”
Woolwich Works has transformed five historic Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings on the Royal Arsenal into what is set to become London’s diverse new destination for the arts.
The new district includes:
- An impressive 1200 seated or 1800 standing performance venue
- An external courtyard for performances
- Five studios, which will also be used for performances and rehearsals spaces
- A cafe, bar, and spaces for community groups and the general public
- Hire spaces for weddings, parties, conferences, and events
Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Councillor Danny Thorpe said: “Woolwich is the civic and cultural centre of the borough, and now it will be an arts destination for people from across London, England and beyond. Our residents will benefit from new jobs and the extra visitors will bring money into the local economy, as well as all of the opportunities that will arise from having a world class facility like this on our doorstep. People have long said that London is shifting east, and to be opening Woolwich Works in our part of the city is further proof of that. I passionately believe that the arts and culture should be accessible for people from all walks of life, and I’m really pleased that our residents, community groups and schools will be able to make the most of such brilliant opportunities.”
Providing an exciting taste of what’s to come in the lead up to opening, Woolwich Works has co-commissioned resident artist Protein for their first in-person performance since the start of the pandemic. Using a mix of dance, live music and storytelling, En Route (launching 26th July) will move through Woolwich’s streets, connecting performers with local participants after an extensive period of isolation.
Councillor Denise Hyland, Woolwich Works Trustee, and Deputy Mayor, Royal Borough of Greenwich, comments: “Woolwich Works is set to be a fantastic asset for Woolwich, the Royal Borough of Greenwich community and the wider region. After a year of turmoil, this is another sign of hope that normality is returning. The work the Trust is planning along with its Resident Artistic Companies is set to enhance and complement the community initiatives we already have in the borough.”
Guided by the government’s roadmap for lockdown restrictions easing, Woolwich Works is currently scheduling its cultural programming, ready to welcome visitors from Thursday 23rd September 2021.
Visit the Woolwich Works website to hear more about the project and receive updates on programming www.woolwich.works.