News: South East Dance launches fund to realise vision of Jamie Watton

Thursday 25 October 2018

Jamie Watton. Photo by Zoe Manders.

South East Dance has launched The Jamie Watton Fund to secure the legacy of its late Artistic Director and CEO who died in July.

For more than a decade, Jamie Watton had been the driving force behind The Dance Space: a state of the art home for dance in the south east, opening to the public in spring 2020.

His vision was a space that would create meeting points between local communities and artists, particularly artists who take creative risks to find new ways of enticing more people to dance. An important cultural asset for the region, The Dance Space will comprise community and participation space, a flexible performance theatre, rehearsals studios, artist residency accommodation, and creative co-working space.

South East Dance has raised 97% of the £6.79 million needed to complete the project. This new fund aims to raise the final £190,000 and – in Watton’s name – create bursaries for innovative new artists and choreographers, and offer financial support to artists at the start of their careers, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Watton trained at Trinity Laban before joining its touring company Transitions and establishing his own company with long-time collaborator Fiona Edwards. He joined South East Dance as Artistic Director/CEO in 2009, where the idea for The Dance Space was born.

Sir Matthew Bourne says:

“Jamie holds a very special place in my heart as one of the original six dancers in my first full-length piece, Town and Country in 1991. We were all at the beginnings of our careers and I’m so proud that most of us went on to have very important roles to play in the UK dance scene over the following decades. Jamie’s vision for a space in which dance artists can create and rehearse work under one roof is such a vital one for the industry, and I share that passion. I’m looking forward to seeing his vision become a reality.”

Cath James, Acting Artistic Director at South East Dance, says:

“Jamie was an inspirational leader and a passionate advocate for dance and it’s tragic that he will never see The Dance Space open. Jamie celebrated and embraced risk and challenge and it was that ethos that continues to drive our ambition to realise a dance space he would have been proud of.”

To find out more and donate visit the South East Dance website.

Photo: Jamie Watton © Zoe Manders

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