Emma-Jane Newton appointed as Chair of Sydney Dance Company


4 May 2023

Sydney Dance Company today announced that Brett Clegg will be stepping down as Chair of the company after 4 years in the role and after 8 years as a member of the Board. Emma-Jane Newton, currently the Deputy Chair, has been appointed as Chair of the company.

Emma-Jane Newton has been a member of the Board since 2018 and was chosen as the successful candidate through a recruitment process undertaken by Challis Company. Emma-Jane is a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley and was formerly an Executive Director at Telstra and a Managing Director of Credit Suisse. Emma-Jane has chaired Sydney Dance Company’s Audit and Risk Committee since June 2019 and has been Deputy Chair since December 2021.

Brett Clegg has shepherded the company through the extreme disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and has played a pivotal role during some of the company’s most crucial chapters – the relocation of Sydney Dance Company’s home at the Wharf while the NSW Government’s Walsh Bay Arts Precinct renewal was underway and the delivery of the Capital Campaign to achieve philanthropic support to assist with the funding of the redevelopment of the iconic Wharf Studios. Brett guided the company through its milestone 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2019, a moment to reflect on the company’s legacy and incredible achievements over 50 years and an opportunity look to the future.

Working closely with former Executive Director Anne Dunn, current Executive Director Lou Oppenheim and Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela, Brett’s tenure has seen the organisation expand its role as Australia’s leading contemporary dance company, earning an international reputation as one of the country’s pre-eminent cultural exports. The evolution of the company’s outreach, public classes and education programs has been instrumental to Brett’s achievements and has ensured a strong, stable and commercially sustainable base for the company.

Outgoing Sydney Dance Company Chair, Brett Clegg said, “The privilege and responsibility of being Chair of Sydney Dance Company has been among the greatest of my life. The essence of this daring Company is excellence and ambition. And over the past decade we have witnessed those qualities take our beautiful organisation to new heights of achievement and acclaim. I leave knowing that this story has another exciting chapter ahead and being so delighted that, in keeping with the intrinsic family identity that pervades our culture, Emma-Jane will now take the baton on. Her support and stewardship as Chair of Audit and Risk through recent years demonstrates her capability and dedication. With my governance role now concluded, I look forward to still adoring the artistry of Raf and the company dancers as a delighted member of the audience.”

Incoming Sydney Dance Company Chair, Emma-Jane Newton said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Sydney Dance Company family for many years, a leader in contemporary dance nationally and internationally under the artistic direction of Rafael Bonachela. It is a great honour to be appointed as Chair and I am thrilled to continue the wonderful work of Brett, the Board and the whole team. We have a broad remit to build upon with a strong track record of collaborating and partnering to commission and present new diverse work, performing and touring nationally and internationally, and delivering education and training to continue to build and foster a vibrant contemporary dance community.”

Also announced today was the news that Bianca Spender will join the Sydney Dance Company Board in May. Bianca Spender is an acclaimed Australian fashion designer and a regular creative collaborator for the company, creating costumes for works by Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela such as Years and Cinco.

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