Stopgap Dance Company Announces the Appointment of a New Co-Chair

Stopgap welcomes Suzie Birchwood as Co-Chair of the Board to help drive forward their organisational mission of using dance as a movement for change.

30 November 2023 Posted by One Dance Team


Suzie Birchwood and Laura Jones in A-Part by Abi Mortimer

Suzie Birchwood and Laura Jones in A-Part by Abi Mortimer

Suzie Birchwood joins Stopgap Dance Company as Co-Chair of the Board alongside Jane Hackett. Suzie is a Disabled dancer, choreographer, and dance educator.

 “I am delighted to welcome Suzie as Co-Chair of the board and am very much looking forward to working with her,” said Jane Hackett. “I have known Suzie for some time, as a talented performer and as an articulate advocate for the sector and know that she has valuable skills and knowledge to contribute to Stopgap. Together with our committed and experienced Board of Trustees, and with the visionary team at Stopgap, we have an inspired group to take the organisation into its next phase.”

As an artist Suzie has worked with Marc Brew, Ballet Cymru, The Scottish Ballet, Candoco, Stopgap and GDance. She has choreographed and performed her own works, including a double bill commissioned by Sadler's Wells. As a Dance Educator, Suzie works to support artists in the discovery and nurturing of the individual’s unique movement personalities. With a practice informed by Universal Design, she works as part of the ‘Dance Unstuck’ team exploring accessible pathways into codified techniques of dance. In 2002 she established Silverbirch Dance Company (formerly ActOne ArtsBase) and enjoyed 15 years as Artistic Director.

I am thrilled to be joining the Stopgap board as Co-Chair,” said Suzie Birchwood. “As a long-time fan of Stopgap, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful organisation and its world-class performances. From students to professionals, Stopgap provides a platform for individuals to thrive and become valuable team members, and I am honoured to be a part of that journey.

I am especially delighted to be co-chairing with Jane Hackett, whose extensive experience and knowledge are invaluable. The collective wisdom and expertise of the board members will undoubtedly guide us towards continued success, and I am eager to learn from and collaborate with them. I am excited to embark on this new chapter and work alongside the dedicated board, staff, and supporters of Stopgap. Together, we will strive to further the organisation's mission and expand its impact within the community. My appointment as co-chair brings a fresh perspective, renewed energy, and a steadfast commitment to Stopgap's goals.”


This new appointment builds on a strong connection to the company with Suzie previously working closely alongside Co-Artistic Director Laura Jones on projects such as Stopgap’s inclusive teacher training programme Seedbed, our international cultural exchange series Open Dialogo, and a part (2018) a dance film in collaboration with Lîla Dance which celebrates the art of wheelchair dancing. 

Suzie is a wonderful human being and a joy to work with,” said Laura Jones. “I really value our conversations when we’re discussing topics of disability dance, such as language and issues relating to barriers and access to dance. It’s always refreshing to speak with Suzie, and I deeply value her as an artist too. The amount of knowledge that she brings to this new role is incredible”. 

Co-Artistic Director Lucy Bennett said, “We are thrilled that Suzie Birchwood has been appointed Co-Chair of Stopgap’s wonderful Board of Trustees. For me as an artist I really appreciate another inclusive artist on board. Suzie has a wealth of expertise in dance and inclusion and has experienced both sides of the story as a non-disabled dancer and a Disabled dancer. Suzie already understands the language we want to use to bring both sides together to create sustainable change within the dance industry. We can’t wait to get working with her.”

Stopgap also takes this opportunity to thank outgoing Co-Chair Simon Minty for six years of commitment to the organisation, two as Co-Chair and four as a trustee. 

I would like to thank Simon Minty, who is standing down as Co-Chair, for his invaluable insight and support that have guided Stopgap in its recent successful growth”, said continuing Co-Chair Jane Hackett. 

I understand the immense responsibility that comes with filling Simon’s shoes,” said Suzie. “While I may not be able to match his contributions, I am committed to advocating for Stopgap's mission, being an attentive listener, and providing support in any way I can”.

We can’t thank Simon Minty enough for his dedication as Co-Chair in supporting Stopgap’s ambitions”, said Lucy Bennett. “During the pandemic, the board under Simon’s co-chairmanship was a rock for Stopgap’s leadership team. They encouraged us to look after ourselves, keep it light, and Simon led mental health support sessions for the artistic team. We feel incredibly privileged to have had Simon’s counsel over the years and we will miss his wit and wisdom at our quarterly meetings.”