New CEO for Dance City announced

Published: 12 June 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Anand Bhatt from Leicester, co-founder of the Aakash Odedra Company, is to be the new Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of Dance City, replacing the previous CEO and AD, Anthony Baker, who left the organisation in August 2019. Since his departure, Creative Producer Phil Douglas has been interim Artistic Director.

Bhutt’s was the Aakash Odedra Company’s producer and also ran a studio space in Leicester and the resident Bollywood dance school, Desi Masti.

His brief is to lead Dance City, which has bases in both Newcastle and Sunderland, as it emerges from the challenges of coronavirus, into the next stage of its development, aiming to build a sustainable business model that successfully serves all the leading dance organisation’s audiences, communities and stakeholders.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the buildings have been closed and 75 staff furloughed although online dance training has been available to support current students, virtual auditions have taken place to assist next year’s intake of students, and other online activities and classes will be offered over the summer as Dance City adapts to the current social distancing rules.

“Dance City is a unique and dynamic dance institution,” Bhutt said, “and I am delighted to be taking up the post at one of the leading cultural organisations in the North. My journey to Dance City began at the start of this year before any of us could have predicted the impact that the pandemic would have on society and the cultural sector in particular.

“I know that over the coming months, Dance City will have to scrutinise all areas of our business, make savings and efficiencies, change the way we operate and think carefully about how we deliver our mission, vision and charitable purpose.

“The challenges we face with this pandemic are unprecedented but I’m looking forward to working with the talented team at Dance City so that we can continue to make a difference to lives of people in the North East and contribute to the regional economy.”

“I am very pleased to announce that Anand Bhatt will be the new Chief Executive of Dance City,” said Sharon Paterson, Chair of the Dance City Trustees. “The board are very much looking forward to welcoming him to the region and working with him leading our talented team at Dance City.

“Dance City has a proud history as a charity, but one which is resilient and commercially minded—pre-lockdown we earned roughly two thirds of our income through trading and hires. The board will be supporting our new CEO and the senior management team to find new ways of working post COVID-19.

“We appointed Anand from many high calibre applicants, but Anand’s experience and passion for dance in addition to his vision for Dance City made him stand out. This is an unprecedented time, when the pressures on Dance City have never been greater but I believe that he will take us forward with passion, energy and confidence.”