The Royal Academy of Dance and the Importance of Councils
25 January 2019
Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), ‘topped out’ the construction of the Academy’s global headquarters this week on land that was originally earmarked for a supermarket or a DIY store.
Instead, the site will be home to a striking new development from Avanton that delivers the new RAD HQ and 200 new homes as well as cafes and performance studios. The development provides a world-class cultural asset for London and international dance, as well as a valuable new resource for the community.
The catalyst for spotting the site’s potential and connecting the RAD and Avanton was Wandsworth Council.
Finding the land and assisting in the novel solution for the RAD demonstrates how councils can be transformational to cultural organisations to attract or keep them in their borough.
Councils can only deliver such benefit if they have the time to buy into the ambitions of a cultural organisation, and appreciate the benefit it will bring to the place and its communities.
The mistake some cultural organisations make is to see councils through the prism of (ever decreasing) funding - rather than potential long term transformational partners.
For stronger and more productive relationships with councils, cultural organisations should run ongoing and nuanced engagement programmes with their local council. This should form part of their core public relations and business planning activity.
This helps the organisation and council better understand each other in order to maximise any future opportunity when the time is right.