16/07/2021 - 15:00

Black Swan, WASO leadership changes

16/07/2021 - 15:00

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Artistic director Clare Watson is leaving Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA while Paul Shannon has been appointed chief executive of WA Symphony Orchestra.

Clare Watson will finish at Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA at the end of the year.

Artistic director and co-chief executive Clare Watson is leaving Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA while Paul Shannon has been appointed chief executive at WA Symphony Orchestra.

Ms Watson, who has been in her position at Black Swan for the past five years, has announced she is leaving the company at the end of 2021.

She will continue to work with Black Swan in 2022 to handover to the new recruit and to direct several projects including an international tour of You Know We Belong Together.

Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA chair Francois Witbooi said Ms Watson had contributed to a new artistic era for the company with a focus on inclusivity, representing diverse voices and original works which celebrate the places we live and our indigenous culture.

“Clare has devoted four years to the making of this production, borne from her genuine collaboration between First Nations and non-First Nations people, from writing, through to direction, casting and creatives,” Mr Witbooi said.

York is a turning point for Black Swan in the art of developing and delivering First Nations’ stories and an outstanding credit to Clare’s artistic empathy, expertise and direction.”

Ms Watson said she felt a great sense of achievement that her work had sparked creative conversations and engaged new audiences.

Black Swan said it would start a global search for a suitable replacement to start in January 2022.

Ms Watson’s departure is the second for Black Swan in recent months, with Nicola Forrest resigning as chair in May.

Meanwhile, Mr Shannon has been acting in the position since May 2020, when former chief executive Mark Coughlan announced his departure for personal reasons.

Mr Shannon has been a director of WASO since 2013 and will continue to serve on the board while undertaking his new role.

Prior to joining the company, he worked at Rio Tinto, and its subsidiary Hamersley Iron, for more than two decades, starting in Tom Price.

He subsequently held a variety of financial positions in the iron ore product group and spent three years supporting Rio Tinto’s global copper group.

For eight years until 2018, Mr Shannon was chief financial officer of Rio Tinto’s iron ore business.

West Australian Symphony Orchestra chair Richard Goyder said Mr Shannon had led the company though the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“His love of music combined with proven leadership experience, commercial acumen and focus on wellness and culture have been critical to WASO successfully navigating this turbulent period,” Mr Goyder said.

“We look forward to his ongoing leadership as WASO embarks on an exciting period ahead, including redevelopment of the Perth Concert Hall to incorporate our home and the build-up to WASO’s centenary.”

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