Can art and property development live happily together? In this case they can, writesJulie Daniels

I recently met Gary Conway, head of marketing at The Stage – a new residential, office and retail complex being built on the site of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch.

The Stage is a stupendous £750m Shoreditch complex developed by Galliard Homes. Sitting in their beautiful marketing suite, the glamour of where I am is countered by the real down-to-earthness of the man I’m talking to. Gary’s Stepney-born dad was one of the founders of Galliard and East London is still very much part of the company’s DNA.

There’s an openness about Gary and his colleagues that you wouldn’t expect from such a big developer. It’s still very much a family affair and they seem genuinely thrilled to be giving something back to the community. “We like relationships,” says Gary. “We’re very ‘what you see is what you get’ and we’re the least corporate animal you’ll ever meet.”

The Stage are the main sponsors of the #Artskickers Awards. If you’re a regular LoveEast reader you’ll know all about the awards and their very talented creator Angie Gough (aka
@TheArtsCrusader). It’s her (and LoveEast‘s) mission to celebrate the many unsung heroes of East London’s arts scene.

It’s fair to say that there can be a certain scepticism about a property company sponsoring an arts award, but the development plan speaks for itself.

Galliard (along with partners Cain Hoy, McCourt, and Estate Office Shoreditch) are building The Stage – 412 apartments, offices, retail and leisure spaces, including a rooftop public park – in London’s hippest location. But the jewel in the community crown is that they are contributing to the preservation of one of England’s cultural gems – the remains of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre.

In the midst of the sparkly new buildings will be a public square to show off the recently excavated 1577 Elizabethan playhouse – the place where Henry V was first seen, Shakespeare performed and Elizabeth I visited.

A heritage centre will display artefacts found when the theatre was being excavated, and there will a glass viewing platform above the remains, as well as a sunken amphitheatre providing a venue for performances.

So when we approached The Stage for help with the #Artskickers Awards, they were well and truly in the culture groove and wanted to do all they could. This includes giving over the Shoreditch Streetart Wall (now owned by the developers) to showcase nominees, hosting a glittering ceremony for the winners at the glamorous Stage HQ and generally giving financial help, practical support and great publicity.

“So what’s in it for The Stage,” I asked. “Well, we really liked Angie,” says Gary. “She’s very inspiring – and it provides us with some real culture which is lacking until Shakespeare arrives! To be honest we thought ‘Wow, this is amazing for us’.”

The feeling is definitely mutual.

Know an #artskicking superhero? Nominate them NOW at artskickersawards.com
Deadline for entries: 9.30am, 6 March 2017.

 To hear from our judges, find out about prizes and keep in touch with the #Artskickers, follow @TheArtsCrusader on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter