‘It will transform our existence’: Royal Academy of Dance pirouetting to new Battersea studio

The Royal Academy of Dance is to move its headquarters to a new purpose built facility in Battersea.

The new location is just a mile away from its current one and is predicted to be ready for completion in early 2020.

The academy has been in its current home since 1972 and RAD chief executive Luke Rittner said he is happy they are staying in Wandsworth.

He said: “Wandsworth is very much our home and has been so since our existence.

“We were very keen to stay in the borough.”

Mr Rittner said the move is necessary as the facilities in the current location are not up to standard anymore.

He said: “The premises are hopelessly inadequate in terms of size and the quality of the facilities.

“We look like a 1950s village hall in comparison to others.

“It became clear that we needed to either do something major to where we are in order to get more space or find somewhere else.”

Five years ago architects conducted a feasibility study on the academy and found that it would be a huge cost to create more space in its current location.

Mr Ritnner explained that the RAD board decided they were not capable of launching the capital campaign needed at the time and the search for new premises began.

And now a unique agreement has been made with York Place Buildings.

Mr Rittner explained: “In effect it’s a swap. It’s a really interesting deal and one that other cultural institutions, especially in London where property is so expensive, might consider and use as a template.”

The RAD will move into its new building while York Place Buildings will turn the old site into apartments and townhouses.

Mr Rittner said the move would effectively allow the RAD’s space to double in size.

He said: “This move will mean we are located in a premises designed for our purposes as a dance academy.

“Where we are was designed as a granary store and was adapted.

“Now we will have radical things like a proper heating system and air conditioning!

“All the studios will be high quality with bars, mirrors, sound systems. That will transform our existence.”

Although excited about the developments, Mr Rittner did admit there were feelings of mixed emotions about leaving their home of 45 years.

He said: “Everybody is very fond of the old building. It’s what we know.

“But there’s a degree of excitement. There will be no more putting up with the drawbacks of what we currently have.

“It’s terrific to move just a mile away. Our staff don’t have to change travel arrangements and our students love being close to the centre of London as it offers so much culturally.

“There was some nervousness that we might decide to move miles away but that’s not going to happen.”

If all goes to plan the RAD’s ambition to move into the new facility by 2020 will fall conveniently on their centenary year.

Featured image courtesy of Fifth Capital London, with thanks

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