South East Dance launches new fund to realise the vision its late Artistic Director/CEO Jamie Watton

25 Oct 2018

Jamie Watton © Zoe Manders

South East Dance, the arts charity committed to making life better through dance, has launched The Jamie Watton Fund to secure the legacy of its late Artistic Director/CEO who died in July after a short illness.

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.

Jamie’s vision was a Dance Space that would create meeting points between local communities and great 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 to date raised 97% of the £6.79 million needed to complete the space to the highest possible specifications. This new fund aims to raise the final £190,000 and – in Jamie’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.

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

Artistic Director and Choreographer of New Adventures, 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.”

“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”

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.”

“Jamie celebrated and embraced risk and challenge”

Acclaimed Choreographer and Live Artist Liz Aggiss says: “As an artist, I need champions to hear me and make appropriate considered commentaries on my inner mind babblings. Jamie had that ability in spades.  Jamie was also a chum, and a lovely one at that. His was an open access attitude. Ready for a chat. Up for communication. Present and Willing. I loved that. I loved him. I miss him.”

“As an artist, I need champions to hear me”

To find out more and donate visit: #JamieWattonFund