Black Swan announces new leadership team

Black Swan is pleased to announce the appointments of Kate Champion as Artistic Director and Ian Booth as Chief Executive Officer.

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Black Swan is pleased to announce the appointments of Kate Champion as Artistic Director and Ian Booth as Chief Executive Officer for our State Theatre Company of Western Australia.

We welcome Kate Champion as our Artistic Director and Ian Booth as our Chief Executive Officer.

Black Swan Chair, Francois Witbooi, said the appointments of these two outstanding professionals come at a time our theatre industry emerges from a period of prolonged introspection that’s now ripe for invigoration.

“Kate is an acclaimed and highly regarded global arts leader bringing an eagerness and energy to embrace and expand the artistic vision of our Company. Ian is a highly respected West Australian entertainment executive with impeccable commercial experience and a track record of growth and innovation,” Francois said.

Internationally acclaimed director and choreographer, Kate Champion has more than 30 years’ experience across a range of artforms, including theatre, dance-theatre, opera, musicals, film, and circus, and always with storytelling at its core.

Kate was the founding Artistic Director and CEO of world-renowned Force Majeure (2002 – 2015), a performance company based in Sydney dedicated to new Australian work. More recently, Kate has directed plays for some of the country’s most formidable companies, including Belvoir Theatre, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Melbourne Theatre Company, and Ensemble Theatre. Kate also has a long relationship with Performing Lines. Kate’s history with Black Swan dates back to the original co-production of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet with Belvoir Theatre in 1998.

Kate arrives at a time when leading the Black Swan State Theatre Company presents exciting artistic opportunities.

“Black Swan originated from a daring creative core that launched original forms of story-telling - in particular Aboriginal stories - out into the world. A very different beginning to that of other state theatre companies. I want to be true to this indomitable, maverick spirit and nurture works that reflect imaginatively on the company’s place and time in bold and uncompromising ways within the State, across borders and beyond our shores,” Kate said.

Ian Booth has worked in the creative industries in Western Australia for over 20 years, principally in the Australian film and television industry. As Chief Executive of Screenwest (2007 – 2017), Ian led the organisation through a period of great expansion in the Western Australian film industry. Under Ian’s leadership, the Western Australian peak film financing body financed hundreds of film and television projects, including Red Dog, Bran Nue Dae, Cloudstreet, Mystery Road, Breath, Paper Planes, Jandamarra, Outback Truckers and Who Do You Think You Are.

Ian is a Commonwealth Government appointment to the board of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, as well as a director of a number of companies in the film and television sector, including production company Indian Pacific Pictures Pty Ltd, and Home Fire Creative Industries Pty Ltd, which is in a market led process with the State Government to build and operate major film studios in WA.

Ian has also served as a non-executive director on the Boards of national screen agency Ausfilm, Awesome Arts and the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.

“Black Swan has a strong history and place in the landscape of the Western Australian arts sector. To lead this talented team, working with inspirational Western Australian storytellers and performers at Black Swan, is both a personal honour and a professional privilege,” Ian said.

Black Swan’s new leadership announcements coincide with the sad passing of one of the Company’s founders and creative visionary, Andrew Ross, earlier this month. Black Swan Board member and Executive Dean of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, David Shirley had a recent conversation with Andrew, in which he expressed immense enthusiasm at the prospect of Kate’s appointment.

“Andrew said Kate’s appointment will herald a new era for the Company enabling a combination of new and innovative work as well as established classics. Her experimental capacity will bring new insights to text-based theatre along with her reputation and skill for devising and developing highly innovative new works that combine theatre, movement and dance,” David said.

Kate and Ian will commence with Black Swan on 4 April and 2 May respectively.

“For Black Swan to attract the calibre of two such incredible professionals, via a global recruitment process, speaks volumes for our Company and for the path we’re on,” Francois said.

“Kate is a visionary and cultural vanguard whose unique combination of insight, nuance and empathy will put Black Swan on the global cultural map. Ian’s passion for the arts, and his proven commercial business leadership in the Western Australian film industry will further future-proof Black Swan’s artistic vision and business model,” Francois said.

Importantly, Black Swan acknowledges and thanks the outgoing Co-CEOs, Artistic Director Clare Watson and Executive Director Rick Heath.

“Rick and Clare steered our Company through unprecedented challenges that arts organisations in WA, and around the world have experienced. We are grateful to have the foundations in place that enable us to herald this exciting new chapter for our Company,” Francois said.

Black Swan appreciates the efforts of AEGEUS Executive Search in fulfilling Black Swan’s global recruitment requirements for these appointments, and for the strategic advice offered by AEGEUS’s Tony Grierson through the leadership transition.

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