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The Talent House, UD's Thriving New Creative Hub For Black Music And Culture, Officially Opens In East London



Ray BLK appointed as the organisation's first Ambassador

UD launches degree courses in music performance and production and a new membership scheme for Black music creatives and SME start-ups


The Talent House, a new £4.1 million state-of-the-art creative hub from leading national youth music organisation, UD, and East London Dance has officially been opened in Stratford by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. As part of the evening, Ray BLK was revealed as the organisation's first ever Ambassador, building on her engagement to date with UD's Flames Collective.

The new hub will equip young diverse talent in east London to become the next generation of music and dance professionals by providing free and affordable access to world class facilities as a launchpad to reach new audiences, alongside facilitating collaboration between young people and early career creatives and producers.

The five-year capital project, launched with initial funding from Arts Council England and the Greater London Authority (GLA), brings UD and East London Dance together under one roof. The Talent House will welcome more than 12,000 people every year with an inspirational public programme, co-curated with young people, artists and local residents. More than 2,100 hours of free access to the building with its facilities will be made available to locally-based independent artists and young participants every year.

From schools outreach and skills programmes to industry networks and professional development opportunities, UD and East London Dance will continue to nurture the confidence of young creatives and support them to build sustainable careers, acting as a pivotal player in the talent development pipeline of the next generation of music and dance professionals.

Over the last 20 years, UD has helped and showcased a number of artists at the early stages of their careers including Wretch32, Little Simz, Ghetts, Andreya Triana, Maverick Sabre, Devlin, Labrinth, Skepta and Paigey Cakey. Many young professionals who have come through the organisation's doors can now be found working at institutions including Island Records, Nike, Rinse FM, GRM Daily, Beats and SBTV.

Pamela McCormick, Founder and CEO, UD said: "Over the last 20+ years, UD has seen the potential for excellence in every young person we've encountered. Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.  We know that the specific training needs demanded of Black music are not met by music education; there is a lack of strategic talent development in Black music, with many artists unable to achieve sustainable careers without subsidised intervention; and, whilst Black music has never been more commercially successful in the UK, only a small percentage of the workforce is from communities experiencing racial inequality or barriers to social mobility. As we move into the Talent House, we are poised to realise the potential that this new state-of-the-art resource can bring to transforming the lives of young people, challenging the outdated traditions of music education, and diversifying the face of the music industry." 

Speaking as a newly-appointed UD Ambassador, singer-songwriter Ray BLK said: "Being an Ambassador for UD is an absolute honour. It's a pleasure to be a part of the amazing work the organisation does for young people. I've performed before with The Flames Collective and so I know how UD supports young Black musicians and helps develop their incredible gifts. The Talent House is going to be huge for East London, and the state of the art facilities that people will have access to will be a game changer for them. It's an exciting time for Black music and I know that with the commitment and passion from the team at UD, the Talent House is going to play a big role in creating opportunities and connections for young people and I'm so proud to be a part of it."

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "Culture is at the heart of what makes London the greatest city in the world, which is why I'm delighted to officially open Talent House. London's music and dance scene is thriving, but these companies need a home to nurture and support talent, so I'm proud to have invested in this state of the art facility, which will not only be a springboard for creatives and performers in Newham and across the city, but help to cement London as the creative capital of the world. Investment like this is essential for our city's recovery and a key part of building a better London for everyone."

Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer, PPL – a Founding Partner of the Talent House, added: "The opening of the Talent House is a fantastic addition to UD's already successful range of programmes, including its Incubator and Flames Collective, its Industry Takeover All Dayer, which PPL regularly supports and presents at, and its educational courses. PPL is proud to have contributed to the funding of the Talent House and to continue supporting UD, and we look forward to seeing and hearing the great work of the young talents who will benefit from it."

 

UD will further its strategy to create accessible, structured and sustainable pathways for Black music, anchored in the community at the Talent House but with national profile and reach.  The programme will kickstart with:

      New level 4 (Degree Year 1) artist development/music business courses, CertHE Music Performance & Production, CertHE Music Technology & Production, awarded by the University of East London and supported by music industry partners.

      New subsidised membership scheme for Black music creatives and SME start-ups offering free access to resources (co-working space, studios), masterclasses,  business support, networking and showcasing events. 

      Industry Takeover, UD's annual conference with keynote talks by Black music leaders, panels debating politics predicting trends, 'How to Steal My Job' break-out workshops, 121 'Ask the Expert' surgeries, showcases featuring cutting-edge underground talent, industry marketplace, and networking.

      New youth access programme offering sustained first access classes and projects, targeted at age 16–19 from Host Olympic Boroughs.

      Existing pan London projects will relocate to the Talent House.  Flames Collective, UD's flagship pre-vocational creative development programme for emerging songwriters and vocalists age 14 to 19, and its Incubator/Accelerator scheme offering individual packages reflecting in-depth needs assessment and offering long-term 'advanced level' development typically unavailable to emerging artist producers.

 

The Talent House has been made possible with the support of Arts Council England; Greater London Authority; London Legacy Development Corporation; London Borough of Newham; Vastint UK; Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund, funded by Westfield Stratford City and delivered by Foundation for Future London; London Marathon Charitable Trust; The Linbury Trust; The Foyle Foundation; Cockayne – Grants for the Arts & London Community Foundation; PPL; Arts & Culture Impact Fund by Nesta; and CMS Law. East London Dance and UD continue to fundraise for the final £350k to reach the £4.1m target for The Talent House.

Sugar House Island is a balanced, mixed-use development that has been carefully curated in line with Stratford's regeneration as a hotspot for successful, forward-thinking creative businesses and communities. Newham was recently named a Priority Place for Arts Council funding.

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