National Youth Jazz Orchestra named as resident artistic company

A youth jazz orchestra has been named as the resident artistic company in a multimillion- pound arts complex.

Woolwich Works, the £31million restoration of historical industrial buildings on the Royal Arsenal in Greenwich, is set to become London’s new cultural quarter for the arts.

Woolwich Works will be home to large-scale concert venue, rehearsal and studio spaces.

It will offer music, theatre, dance, spoken word, comedy, exhibitions and food and drink for London and beyond.

The new district will include a 1,200 seated or 1,800 standing performance venue, an external courtyard for performances, five studios which will also be used for performances and rehearsal spaces, a cafe, bar and spaces for community groups as well as hire for weddings, parties, conferences and events.

It will also be home to a number of renowned performing arts companies and has announced the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) as the latest resident artistic company.

NYJO are one of many local, national and internationally acclaimed artists in residence to call Woolwich Works their home including world-renowned theatre company Punchdrunk, Europe’s first majority black and minority ethnic orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, as well as Greenwich-based dance company Luca Silvestrini’s Protein and the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair.

Founded in 1965, NYJO has grown from a jazz orchestra of young musicians, to a multi-faceted organisation that seeks to both improve jazz education nationally, and nurture the talent of aspiring musicians at the start of their careers.

Woolwich Works space

Woolwich Works will become NYJO’s first permanent home, but for Roger Wilson, head of professional development, the area is a very familiar one: “I grew up in Woolwich back in the day when the area brought with it a lot of challenges. I’m under no illusion that many of these challenges are still present today and I want NYJO and Woolwich Works to provide meaningful opportunities for the local community. Woolwich is coming into the national focus and I’m really looking forward to seeing the area become the hub of arts activity. It’s very exciting to be back.”

All of Woolwich Work’s artists in residence will work with the local community on a number of projects once the district launches.

NYJO will be working with the community to develop young people’s musical and social skills including a ‘creative jazz group’ offering young people in the area an opportunity to gain their first experience of performing with an ensemble.

All of Woolwich Work’s artists in residence will work with the local community on a number of projects once the district launches. Claire Furlong, head of learning & participation at NYJO said: “NYJO aims to become a valuable member of Woolwich’s vibrant creative community, and create musical experiences we hope will resonate with people locally, nationally and internationally.”

Set to open in next year, Woolwich Works will be a space for its community with local resident offers and community schemes announced later this year. Valerie Vaughan-Dick, Woolwich Works’ chairwoman, said: “A partnership between Woolwich Works and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra is an exciting prospect for us to be able to support young musicians. We are honoured to be the new home for the next generation of jazz artists.”

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