Dance at Southbank Centre

Wendy Martin, Head of Dance at Southbank Centre was recently interviewed about our dance programme and our Unlimited Festival.

Hi Wendy, can you tell me a bit about Southbank Centre’s dance provision?

We want to share our passion for dance by presenting and commissioning the work of artists and companies that excite, inspire and provoke. We also look for work that speaks to the themes of our festivals. Across the year, the programme at Southbank is driven by a series of thematic festivals that provide a framework for investigating the world of contemporary dance from particular perspectives.

How are you engaging new dance audiences at Southbank Centre?

Learning and participation is hugely important to us and there are always opportunities to become engaged with dance more deeply than by simply watching a performance. This is a great way for people to step into the world of dance. For Unlimited – our upcoming festival celebrating the artistic vision and originality of artists with disabilities – people can take part in a workshop led by integrated dance company Stopgap, where disabled and non-disabled people with no dance skills can learn together.

We’re also presenting the return of Groove on Down the Road, ZooNation’s hip-hop dance show inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The performers are from ZooNation’s youth company, all aged between nine and 19. The show is bringing in family audiences, many of whom are seeing a dance show for the first time.

What’s your programming process?

The only way you can really understand the landscape of what’s happening in contemporary dance is by seeing a lot of work. To make a festival like Unlimited, I endeavour to see as much work as possible created by disabled artists and I also get to know the artists so I can understand their particular point of view, their creative goals and career ambitions.

Finding work is the beginning of the process. When I see a show I analyse my own response but I also ask a series of questions about why I would present a work, who would want to see it and what our marketing and PR team might say to sell it. In the end, the decisions you make are always driven by questions of context, budget and marketing.

Dance received almost a 10% funding rise in the recent national portfolio organisation (NPO) round – why do you think Arts Council England (ACE) upped its investment?

There are so many people and organisations in the UK passionately committed to dance – from the brilliant artists creating the work we see to community programmes like Big Dance that bring people together. Dance plays such an important role in our culture and community, and the NPO funding increase is acknowledgement of that fact.

What’s the key then to making sure that investment stays strong in the long-term?

Creating and touring work requires serious financial commitment so the idea of organisations pooling resources is a smart one. The important thing is that the work is seen and that opportunities and audiences continue to grow. Wouldn’t it be great if the corporate world could see the immense value in this and begin to support dance the way it supports sport?

How far do you think disability arts have come since the London 2012 Paralympics?

The Unlimited programme and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympics proved, as Lyn Gardner recently acknowledged on her blog, that disability arts are an integral part of the arts ecology and society itself. ACE, Creative Scotland and the Spirit of 2012 Trust have acknowledged this by committing ongoing funding to enable the Unlimited programme to continue to commission, develop and show ambitious and high-quality work both nationally and internationally.

The disappointing thing is that as these funding agencies recognise the merit and value of disability arts, many artists with disabilities are finding it difficult to get the support they need to make work because of government cuts to the Access to Work scheme. There is a paradox there that needs to be addressed.

What needs to change?

Without the support of the Access to Work scheme, creating work can be a massive challenge for artists with disabilities. Deaf artists who require sign interpreters for communication or artists who need carers to be with them are simply not able to work without support. We are not talking about benefits; they are essential.

As presenters we must also consider the needs of audience members with disabilities. A huge part of our budget and planning for Unlimited is committed to ensure that as many performances as possible are BSL interpreted, captioned and audio described. These are essential provisions. They are costly but venues must commit to making work accessible to everyone.

What do you make of what’s going on at the moment with the Australian arts and culture sector?

It’s devastating to have a government that does not respect and support the role of the arts. The biggest arts cuts in the recent budget were to the Australia Council for the Arts and Screen Australia.

Take cinema: for a small country, Australia has punched well above its weight and our films speak to a broad international audience. But it’s the leadership that makes a difference. Culture thrived in Australia under Edward Whitlam and later Paul Keating. These were enlightened individuals.

This interview was first published on the Guardian website.

Get Involved with our Philia Weekend

As part of Philia Weekend, which explores the way we care for the people we strive with to achieve a shared goal, Southbank Centre is calling on bands and groups of the past to reunite for one final performance. Whether you rocked in college or popped in dance-floor-fillers-party-performance-webprimary school, take this chance to get back together, perform some of your old favourites and spend the evening reminiscing with old friends. Whether you have one song or a 30-minute set we want to hear from you!

To book a slot in our reunion gig on Saturday 9th August please email with your grou
p name and size, along with a paragraph telling us about your group’s story.

There are plenty of other ways to get invovled, including The Big Stich Up, Capturing Connections and Dance Floor Fillers.

So grab your mates and come down to our Philia weekend!

Southbank Centre on Tour

 Wolf Trapp Concert Hall Every year around 24 million people visit Southbank Centre to see our numerous festivals, performances and events. They all help to make our site the bustling, vibrant and exciting place it is. However, we know that not everyone can make it to London and not wanting our worldwide audience to miss out we have started touring certain festivals and events.

One such performance was 2001 A Space Odyssey on July 19th 2014 and Gillian Moore, Head of Classical Music at Southbank Centre was in attendance:

‘As part of Southbank Centre’s ongoing touring programme, our production of Stanley Kubruck’s 2001 A Space Odyssey was performed by the National Symphony Orchestra in the Wolf Trap concert hall, Washington 4

This production was first devised for the See Further festival of Science and the Arts in 2010 and has been seen around the world from Sydney to Amsterdam to New York, managed by Neil Mackinnon, our Touring and Commissions Manager.  In Washington, over 3,000 people saw 2001 at this spectacular outdoor venue in a National Park and, because it was shown the day before the 45th anniversary of the Moon Landing,  the pre-show talk was given by Buzz Aldrin together with the Director of NASA.  There was a standing ovation and it was exciting to see something which was born at Southbank Centre having such a great reaction on the other side of the world.’

Urban Fashion Show


Urban Weekend arrives at Southbank Centre between Friday 25 July 2014 and Sunday 27 July 2014 and as part of this year’s activities we will present in our Urban fashion show featuring YOU! Do you have a strong street look? Would you like to show off your style as part of Urban Weekend? The fashion show will take place at our Urban festival, on the Clore Ballroom in the Royal Festival Hall, 2-2.30pm.

London style has always had a powerful influence on music, design and fashion. Fashion is a form of expression and way to rebel and we want this to be shown by making a statement of what the style represents and how it says something about the individual person.


The admission on the day is free, so anyone can come and support their friends/family or to see if any of the styles inspire you.


If you’d like to be on that catwalk please get in


Shot Through the Heart Poetry Film Competition – Shortlist and Winners Announced


Southbank Centre is very proud to announce the shortlisted poetry films for its inaugural poetry film competition. Shot Through the Heart Poetry Film competition received entries from all over the world and judges selected 10 films to showcase at the prize giving evening in the Purcell Room at Southbank Centre as part of Poetry International Festival on Friday 19 July. Book tickets here.

There were two prizes – one for films made for adults and one for films made for children – all inspired by the themes of Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love. Judges Alastair Cook, award-winning filmmaker, photographer and founder of Filmpoem, Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel, Artistic Director of Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin and Malgorzata Kitowski, Founder and Director of PoetryFilm had a difficult selection process due to the quality of the work.

Shortlisted films for adults are:

1. Three Heart Poems by Simon Barraclough, Animation by Carolina Melis
2. Millionaire by Michelle Oliver (Mab Jones), Animation by Lauren Orme and Jordan Brooke
Click here to watch this sample video online
3. I’ll murder you by Sarah King, Amit Lennon and Francesca Beard
4. Rolling Frames by Ella Jane Chappell, Film by Katie Garrett
Click here to watch this sample video online
5. London by poet Sophie Herxheimer and filmmaker Joseph Giffard Tutt
6. Bitch by Catherine Linton
7. Loveletter to Francis by poet Stacy Makishi, Director Nick Parish, Exectuive Producer Marc Boothe
8. This is not a thank you by Be Manzini
9. Best by Kerry Bradley
10. Sitting for the Mistress by poet Seni Seneviratne, Director Shirley Harris, Production diva creative ltd.

Judges also selected poet and filmmaker Robert Peake as the winner of the children’s prize with his film Buttons about two creatures that find long distance love.  Robert Peake is an American poet in England and will be joining Southbank Centre on the Clore Ballroom on Saturday 19 July to talk about his winning film and show us some of his favourite poetry films for children.

Winning films receive £500 to be split between poet and filmmaker as well as a pair of tickets each to Poetry International’s Gala Reading. The winning children’s film will be shown in Imagine Children’s Festival 2015 headlining a children’s poetry film event and both winning films will be shown at 2014’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.

‘I can see the genre evolving and becoming increasingly acknowledged; however, there is still significant scope for development. Poetryfilms offer opportunities to create fresh semiotics and to explore the art of meaning-making in new ways. Of Southbank Centre’s seventy three competition entries, the strongest material best embraced these challenges.’ (Malgorzata Kitowski, Founder and Director of PoetryFilm who has been making poetryfilms and producing curated PoetryFilm events for 15 years)

‘It was a pleasure for me to watch the films and to discover some well-known filmmakers and poets, but new filmmakers, too. I have seen a lots of films but the nominated films are really very good films and it will be pleasure for me to show some of them at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival.’ (Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel)

Free Digital Workshop for all the Family

This weekend at Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love is all about Storge – that’s what the ancient Greeks called family love.
Once again we have free events and activities all across the site, all day and these include our Digital Playground and Digital Workshops. Sign up for your family places today.
Here’s what will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 July:

STORGE Digital Workshops
With Codasign and Vivian Schwarz

Digital Family Tree & Digital Making 
All day drop-in digital activity in which parents and children can create a circuit leaf to add to the a large scale digital family tree. The digital playground space will also have a series of drop-in demo areas where families can interact with DIY and Digital maker objects.

Royal Festival Hall, Level 2 Green Display Space 2
Saturday 11th July – Sunday 12th July 2013 Open 10am – 4.30pm


With Codasign: Be Creative with Technology

Saturday 12th July 2014 & Sunday 11th July 2014 10am & 2pm
Royal Festival Hall, JP MorganPavilion (Level 3)

2 x 2.5 hour family workshops
2 each day each
10:30 – 13:00 (6-9 year olds) & 14:00 – 16:30 (9-12 year olds)
10 children with 10 accompanying adults

Learn about Scratch and MaKey MaKey
Come and learn how to create your very own interactive hand puppet which tells you a story using Scratch and MaKey MaKey in this family workshop.

Together you will write a short story about an experience you have shared which you will then animate in Scratch, a visual programming environment. We will turn characters into interactive puppets which can be connected to the computer using a MaKey MaKey, enabling them to tell your tale! We’ll start from the basics, teaching you how to program in Scratch as well as designing and drawing your own background, character and objects. At the end of the workshop you will have your puppet to take home with you and will be able to access your animation at home via the Scratch website.

Exciting! We have places available for 10 children with an accompanying adult Email us to book and we have drop in sign up on the day.


Southbank Centre launches its Summer Festival of Love

Southbank Centre opened its first Festival of Love  last weekend on Saturday 28 June. The Festival which runs until Sunday 31 August will feature a wide-ranging programme of performances, poetry, music, exhibitions and installations across the site as well as differently-themed weekends. Seven of the most powerful variations of love identified by the Ancient Greeks, have been chosen to be the focus of the Festival. Festival of Love

It was also announced that Southbank Centre’s next three summer festivals will have love at their heart.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “This summer we celebrate love to mark the historic change in legislation enabling everyone to marry their partner of choice. I’m thrilled with the interest we’ve had from couples who will publicly declare their love at our Big Wedding Weekend; the climax to the Festival. We’re looking for 100 more couples – young or old, straight or gay – to join the celebrations in what is an alternative, fabulous and affordable way to get married. We also wanted to commemorate Nelson Mandela, who along with other political activists including Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mahatma Gandhi declared that love was the most fundamental way to bring about change. As an organisation that strongly believes the arts and culture can enable change we’re dedicating our next three summer Festivals to the rich and complex subject of Love.”

The Festival’s Opening Weekend was an in-depth look at the seven types of love with talks, debates, workshops, readings and performances. Highlights included writer and founding faculty member of The School of Life, Roman Krznaric, talking about the Different Varieties of Love; Dr Bettany Hughes and Professor Angie Hobbs discussing the nature and power of erotic love and a Flirtology workshop with social anthropologist Jean Smith.

Roman Krznaric, said: “There is a crisis in the art of loving. 50% of couples get divorced. One in four people say they are lonely. The average couple spends more time watching TV together than actually speaking to each other. The surprising news is that gazing into the past and looking at the Ancient Greeks’ different varieties of love can be a cure for our contemporary dilemmas. It’s time to challenge the myths around romance sold by Hollywood and draw on the best thinking in philosophy, history, psychology and the visual arts to give us new tools to think about love.”

Dr Bettany Hughes, said: “I’m fascinated by the millennia-long history of the power of love from the Bronze Age to the present day. We can learn a huge amount from the Ancient Greeks and in particular, Socrates. For him, Love has a purpose. It is the life force, the desire to do, to be, to think. It is the thing that makes us feel great about the world, and therefore makes us be great in it.”

Our whole site has been transformed with love-themed exhibitions and installations including Sliding Gate, a series of play slides by Sean Griffiths of Modern Architect (previously of architecture firm FAT); Love Flags by Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner using the seven colours of the rainbow, signifying the peace and gay pride movements; the Tunnel of Love by disability arts organisation Heart n Soul; Siege Weapons Of Love by Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich, which is part of their Friendly Frontier Peace Campaign and Pragma Tree: Growing Together, a playful installation by The Edible Bus Stop including a large tree.

Temple of Agape by Belinda Lawley & Southbank Centre_04The Temple of Agape on Queen’s Walk by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan is made up of hundreds of brightly-coloured, hand-painted flag-like signs covered in words about love. Tying into the Agape theme – the love of humanity – the temple will represent the power of love to conquer hate and features a quote by Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Artist Lothar Götz has created Seven Colours for Seven Loves, an artwork that gives a colour to each type of love, which will help guide visitors around the site and the introductory exhibition ‘What Love Is’ in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, curated by Southbank Centre with a design concept by Hemingway Design. A new neon love sign by Chris Bracey welcomes visitors to Heartbreak Hotel, in Festival Village, under the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which includes an exhibition created with publishers DC Thomson of letters from Jackie magazine’s famous agony aunts Cathy and Claire and Valentine issue covers from the 70s. Jessica Voorsanger’s I Think I Love You Lounge explores the obsessional love of celebrity. Visitors will be able to dress up as pop stars through the decades selected by Voorsanger including Elvis, Abba, Michael Jackson, the Spice Girls and Beyoncé.

The Museum of Broken Relationships, set up by artists and ex-lovers Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in 2006, is an award-winning collection of remnants from past relationships. The exhibition will include items from the collections and new works gathered for the Festival, including a Slovenian’s sleepover bag from a relationship that included 20 breakups over 17 years and a marriage contract from the Philippines.

Other highlights include:

  • Udderbelly (until 13 July).
  • London Wonderground (until 28 Sept).
  • Poetry International Festival (17-21 July), the biennial festival co-founded by Ted Hughes in 1967, has a special focus on poetry in film.
  • The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture at the Hayward Gallery (until 7 Sept) brings together works from 25 international artists
  • The London premiere of RSC’s The Rape of Lucrece, performed by Camille O’Sullivan
  • Ursula Martinez’s show My Stories, Your Emails (5-10 August)
  • Bryony Kimmings’ Sex Idiot (12-16 August), a funny, unapologetic account by Kimmings of her relationship history following her discovery that she had a common sexual disease.
  • Love at the Pictures (until 28 Aug) including David Lean’s Brief Encounter with live music by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Visit for all the information on the Festival and tweet us this summer with #southbankforlove.