Our Patron HRH The Princess Royal Launches UK Culture Exchange at the Talent House in Stratford

14 June 2024
By Amy Zamarripa Solis

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited East London today [13 June 2024] to launch the second year of Foundation for Future London’s UK-wide youth programme, Culture Exchange. The programme is co-funded by Westfield Stratford City (WSC) through their collaborative and innovative Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund (WEBCFF).

Foundation for Future London is an independent charity established in 2015. The charity aims to connect the local communities of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with the new East Bank and its globally renowned arts, culture and educational partners to ensure equitable opportunities and fair regeneration in East London. They do this through a genuine commitment to an innovative participatory grant-making approach, capacity-building objectives and sustainable development.

As Patron for Foundation for Future London, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal met and awarded certificates to young people from the 2023 Culture Exchange pilot, who were part of a 50-strong cohort aged 18-25 from East London, Preston, Sheffield and Birmingham.

Culture Exchange is an innovative arts and cultural initiative for young people responding to the UK Levelling Up agenda. Devised by the Foundation, the programme aims to connect young people across the UK to engage in artistic, cultural, and digital media training. The programme is funded by WEBCFF, a five-year £10mn catalyst change programme designed to create inclusive social and economic value for the diverse boroughs surrounding East Bank: Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, and made possible through Westfield Stratford City’s transformative, innovative £10m donation in 2020. The Foundation commissioned an East London consortium led by Social Ark to co-design and facilitate the 2023 pilot. Year 2 will run from June to October 2024 and explore culture across Bradford, Nottingham and East London.

The visit was hosted at the Talent House, a pioneering music and dance hub based at 3 Sugar House Lane in Stratford, home to East London Dance and UD, both grant recipients from the Foundation for Future of London. UD is a London-based National Youth Music Organisation (NYMO) that brings communities together around Black music and Black music culture. East London Dance is here to champion and grow east London’s dance scene. The Talent House opened in 2022 and received a significant capital grant from WEBCFF towards its build.

While visiting the Talent House, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal saw inspiring dance, musical performances and demonstrations from talented young artists, dancers and creatives including:

  • Flames Collective, a choir and talent incubator established in 2016 by UD, aims to provide opportunities to young talent from inner-city secondary schools. This year, they’ve collaborated with multi-BRIT Award-winning artist RAYE, performing with her at The Brit Awards, The Jonathan Ross Show, and her sold-out show at The O2 arena.
  • Olu Alatise performing Imole, (Yoruba for ‘light’), a solo dance piece in response to depicting the element of fires, the subtlety, energetic force and power of fire and light.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was welcomed by Foundation for Future London’s CEO Sarah Nelson, Foundation for Future London’s Co-Chair Baroness Lola Young, and Deputy Lieutenant for Newham, Mr. Kim Bromley-Derry CBE DL.

Her Royal Highness also met key representatives from the Talent House, including East London Dance’s Creative Directors & Co-CEOs Kate Scanlan and Tia Hassan and Chair Jacqueline Rose and UD’s Founder and Director Pamela McCormick and Chair Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE; from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Director of UK Operations, Jacinta Rowsell and Head of Sustainability Alyson Hodkinson; and from East Bank, East Bank Director Tamsin Ace and Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, V&A, and Chair of East Bank Board Tim Reeve.

Sarah Nelson, CEO, Foundation for Future London said:

“The visit from our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal signifies a remarkable milestone in our journey to transform East London through the arts and education.

“At Foundation for Future London, we remain steadfast in our commitment to nurturing creativity and facilitating meaningful opportunities across communities. Through initiatives like the Culture Exchange programme, and with the support of partners like Westfield Stratford City, we are not just dreaming about a brighter, more inclusive future, we are actively building it. This event encapsulates the potential of what we aim to accomplish.”

Jacinta Rowsell, Director of UK Operations, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said:

“Today’s visit by Her Royal Highness highlights the impactful work of our Culture Exchange programme and the important role that creative industries play in the sustainable development of communities. It’s a privilege for Westfield to be an invested partner and driving force behind this initiative which celebrates creativity while fostering significant economic and social opportunities for the youth of East London and beyond.”

Lisa Stepanovic MBE, CEO of Social Ark said:

“This event highlights the important work we’re doing through the Culture Exchange project. It’s about building bridges through arts and culture that forge new understanding and opportunities. We are excited to launch the second year of this project aiming to empower young individuals and stitch closer ties across East London and the wider UK.”

Tia Hassan & Kate Scanlan, Joint Creative Director & CEO, East London Dance said:

“East London Dance is proud to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to our home today. We are building a creative home for young people, local talent and the community at the Talent House. Along with our programmes, we are a catalyst for change, breaking down barriers and enriching the sector with new audiences, future talent and the creation of new dance theatre work by diverse local artists. We are thankful for the continued support of our work by Foundation for Future London to increase access to the creative industries.”

Pamela McCormick, Founder and Director, UD said:

“It is a real honour for UD to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to the Talent House today to see our state of the art facilities for young people and to hear more about the work we do to develop and connect Black creative talent with paid opportunities in music and media. We’re proud to be at the heart of the creative community in London’s East Bank and are grateful to our friends at the Foundation for Future London, as well as our many industry partners and funders, for their continued support and engagement.”

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Photo credit: Anne-Marie Michel

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Foundation for Future London

Foundation for Future London is an independent charity established to connect the local communities of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with the new East Bank and its globally renowned arts, culture and educational partners to ensure equitable opportunities and fair regeneration in East London. They do this through a genuine commitment to an innovative participatory grant-making approach, capacity-building objectives and sustainable development. Since launching in 2015, the Foundation for Future London has connected people, places and institutions, from street markets and homeless shelters to galleries and auditoriums. The Foundation for Future London is dedicated to creating new creative employment and transformative life chances for people living, working, and studying in East London.

Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund

Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund is an ambitious five-year programme that started in 2019 and aims to invest £10 million into local communities of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest. This flagship project will provide new jobs, learning, training and educational programmes through the means of arts, culture, innovation, public realm and creative placemaking. The programme aims to transform and catalyse the lives and careers of people in East London by putting funding, resources and support straight into local people’s hands. The fund is supported by Westfield Stratford City and delivered by Foundation for Future London.  The Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund aims to provide 19,000 new jobs, learning, training and educational programmes for the people and communities of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest in the arts, culture, innovation, public realm and creative placemaking.

Westfield Stratford City 

Westfield Stratford City, which opened in September 2011, is the most popular retail and leisure destination in the UK, attracting 50 million shoppers annually. Located at the gateway to the Queen Elizabeth Park, with spectacular views over London, Westfield Stratford City is home to leading UK and international brands including JD Sports, John Lewis & Partners, Under Armour and H&M and is home to over 320 stores and more than 80 dining options. The centre has been successful in attracting nearly 40 pioneering retail and leisure concepts to the UK since its inception and welcomed the expansion of several key retailers, such as Zara, JD Sports, Stradivarius, Bershka, Footlocker and Skechers. Notably, November 2023 marked the opening of Sephora’s second store in the UK, and the centre proudly hosts JD Sports’ largest store globally.

Westfield Stratford City is a prominent leisure destination in London, proudly hosting three hotels, the UK’s largest All Star Lanes bowling alley, a 20-screen all-digital Vue cinema, and London’s largest casino managed by Aspers. Notably, Westfield Stratford City has played a pivotal role in the revitalisation of East London. As one of the initial legacies of the London 2012 Olympics, it is projected that by 2027, approximately £25 billion will have been invested in the area, underscoring its enduring impact on the region’s growth and development.

Westfield Stratford City is committed to supporting the local community. Alongside its support for local charities, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has joined forces with the London Borough of Newham to create The Skills Place Newham. This retail academy, managed by Seetec, is dedicated to empowering the local community and tackling long-term unemployment. In 2019, Westfield Stratford City became a Founding Partner and Official Sponsor of the East Bank project, aimed at fostering employment, learning, and training opportunities in East London. Through collaboration with the Foundation for Future London, the Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund was established. This £10 million, five-year initiative, powered by URW, will generate 19,000 new jobs and provide a wealth of learning, training, and educational avenues, leveraging art, culture, innovation, and creative placemaking.

In the development of Westfield Stratford City, a commitment was made to upholding high standards in sustainability. The project has set a new benchmark for urban retail-led developments by incorporating its own Combined Cooling and Heating Power (CCHP) plant on-site.

East London Dance

East London Dance has been a pioneer in dance development for 36 years. We support the next generation of young people, artists, choreographers, producers, and east Londoners to express their creativity, gain professional opportunities and inspire positive social change.  We place the artists, producers and young people we work with at the centre of our decision making. Rooted in Newham, we’re proud to serve a community with rich diversity and cultural heritage. Each year we engage more than 2,000 participants, reach audiences of 20,000 and support the careers of over 120 artists and producers; 71% of our beneficiaries come from Global Majority heritages.



UD is a London-based National Youth Music Organisation (NYMO) bringing communities together around Black music and Black music culture. With almost 25 years of experience in nurturing and supporting Black and culturally diverse artists when they need it most, UD acts as a bridge between burgeoning talent and the music industry. At UD, we are passionate about excellence, and the potential for excellence in every young person we encounter. Aligning professionalism and business acumen with an understanding of youth and subculture, we run industry-led events, artist development and employment support programmes. Those that have come through our doors can now be found working at institutions including Island Records, Nike, Rinse FM, GRM Daily, Beats and SBTV.

Since 2000, when UD was co-founded by a group of hip-hop artists, we have understood that young people need the resources and space to create and explore their potential; UD works for a world where young people who make and love Black Music, are recognised as equal to any excellent creative individuals, and are celebrated and supported as such. Whether they’re on their first steps into music, just breaking into notoriously competitive creative environments, or about to make it big, we provide the tools they need: Excellence, confidence, structure, opportunity and networks.

Talent House

East London Dance and UD are based at the Talent House, a £4.1 million state-of-the-art creative hub that opened in 2022. The Talent House equips 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 and facilitate collaboration between young people and early career creatives and producers.

Olu Alatise is a dance artist, renowned choreographer, creative director of Afroqueens and lecturer in dance at The London Contemporary Dance School. With over 20 years experience in the industry, Olu has amassed several accolades and worked with industry experts, artists and platforms such as sports direct x Adidas, wireless festival, Olympics 2012, Queens platinum jubilee, Mobo awards, Wagamama, Jason Derulo, Rihanna, Mr Eazi and many more. Her artistry surrounds using African dance to create innovative work that encourages the preservation of cultural dances whilst championing women in dance.

Social Ark – the Lead Partner for Culture Exchange 2023 and 2024

Social Ark was born out of inequality, prejudice, and injustice to bring the opportunities that others take for granted. Founded in 2014 as a CIC and converting to a charity in 2020 this small multi award-winning working-class organisation has gone from strength to strength. Founded by local people from their own community, they have gained much trust across our diverse east London communities and are known for their inclusive values. They understand better than most that although East London is not recognised within the Levelling Up Agenda, it cannot be disputed that under-represented, working-class East London communities are very much in need of building back better, creating a level playing field in terms of opportunities, pay, jobs and living standards. Equity is a Social Ark value and is the guiding value behind this proposal and our budget. Equality and fairness are embedded in everything they do. They have much experience of equitable partnership building and have built a reputation for paying people fairly and valuing lived experience. They understand that for projects to be successful partnerships, they need to be equitable with shared opportunities. They operate with transparency and always seek to build fair and equal partnerships. They won the NatWest 100 2022 Equality Award in recognition of their practices around equality and equity.

East Bank

East Bank is the UK’s newest cultural quarter at the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The place where everything happens entertainment, inspiration and discovery and open to everyone who visits, lives and works in East London. It is a unique collaboration between cultural institutions, world leading universities and the people of the Growth Boroughs.

East Bank is comprised of V&A East; Sadler’s Wells East; London College of Fashion, UAL; UCL East (University College London) and the new BBC Music Studios. The scheme, driven with significant backing and funding from the Mayor of London and support from HM Government and the four Growth Boroughs, will provide skills and jobs for local people, bring over 10,000 students to the site, and attract thousands of visitors from London and beyond. East Bank will help cement the capital’s reputation as a world leader in culture, education and innovation creating 2,500 jobs, £1.5 billion of economic benefit and 600 new homes.

East Bank is rooted in the diverse communities of East London and is a reflection of the creative spirit of the Growth Boroughs and the legacy of the 2012 Games. For over a decade, East Bank institutions have worked with communities across East London to ensure they benefit from the £1.1bn investment. East Bank will build on the area’s existing creative and innovation credentials, and East Bank partners have been building relationships and delivering projects with the thriving arts, fashion, education and community organisations based in the area, including the artistic community in Hackney Wick, East London Dance, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Studio Wayne McGregor and many more.

About Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

East Bank’s home is Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a world-renowned destination nestled in the heart of east London. This iconic Park captivates visitors with world-class cultural offerings from large concerts at London Stadium and ABBA Voyage, to unique public art pieces. Alongside beautiful open spaces and a myriad of London’s best restaurants, the former London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues continue to stand as a testament to the city's rich history and are open for public use and events year-round.

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Amy Zamarripa Solis

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