Sadler’s Wells chief knighted for services to dance

He has been made a knight in the New Year Honours.
Alistair Spalding with his Commander of the British Empire medal following an investiture in 2012 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Alistair Spalding with his Commander of the British Empire medal following an investiture in 2012 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

By Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor

Sadler’s Wells boss Alistair Spalding has said he shares his knighthood with his “wonderful team”.

The artistic director and chief executive of the London theatre has been recognised in the New Year Honours for services to dance.

He said: “It is a great honour to have the work of Sadler’s Wells recognised in this way.

“It has presented and invested in more new dance than any other theatre in the world.

Dance is, of course, a team effort and the honour is very much shared with my wonderful team at Sadler’s and our artists and collaborators

Alistair Spalding

“Dance is now one of the most popular art forms in this country. I believe this award is an indication that our vibrant dance culture goes from strength to strength, and that our ambitious plans for Sadler’s Wells East will inspire and nurture a new generation.

“Dance is, of course, a team effort and the honour is very much shared with my wonderful team at Sadler’s and our artists and collaborators.”

His career began at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley and he was the head of dance and performance at the Southbank Centre from 1994 to 2000.

He joined Sadler’s Well in 2000 as their director of programming before going on to become artistic director and chief executive in 2004.

Under his leadership, Sadler’s Wells has grown in scope, also hosting international dance companies including the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan.

He has overseen more than 130 shows at Sadler’s Wells and productions include William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance, as well as the dance-theatre production Message In A Bottle.

A production of Singin’ in the Rain at Sadler’s Wells (Yui Mok/PA)

A production of Singin’ in the Rain at Sadler’s Wells (Yui Mok/PA)

Produced by Kate Prince, the production was a collaboration between Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK, set to the music of award-winning musician Sting.

Spalding was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2012.

His other accolades include being awarded the Le Chevalier des Artes et Lettres by the French Embassy in 2005.

Nigel Higgins, Sadler’s Wells chair, said: “Alistair is that rare character – a genuine visionary in the performing arts world.

“Thanks to his leadership and creativity Sadler’s Wells has become a British beacon of the thriving home and international dance community.

“In a couple of years, the opening of our new venue in Stratford, east London, will further underline his tireless efforts to build new audiences and encourage the dance talent of tomorrow.

“This honour is more than deserved.”

Sadler’s Wells is one of Arts Council England’s national portfolio organisations and has three theatres currently: Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis Studio and Peacock Theatre, with a fourth venue due to open in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2023.


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