Mark Skipper has been Chief Executive of Northern Ballet since 1996. Mark started his career in banking before joining Northern Ballet as Deputy Stage Manager in 1987. He was promoted to the role of Company Manager and then Head of Planning before being appointed Chief Executive. Since then he has supported the creation of more than 40 new productions and increased the Company’s overseas touring, most recently securing partnership funding to take Northern Ballet to China.
Mark spearheaded the campaign for a new purpose-built dance centre for Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre, leading the team who secured the £12.2million required to complete the project. In 2010 both companies moved in to the fully-funded six-storey powerhouse for dance in Leeds City Centre which boasts world-class facilities including Europe’s largest dance studio. The building has gone on to win several awards including the National Lottery Award for Best Arts Project. Hundreds of people of all ages use the building on a weekly basis for dance classes and to watch performances and it is a place of inspiration and aspiration for the young people in the Academy of Northern Ballet.
Mark’s tireless commitment to the Company, as well as his inspirational leadership to the technical and administrative teams, was recognised in 2006 when he was awarded Manager of the Year at the UK Theatre Awards. He is a prominent member of the national dance community and during his time with Northern Ballet the Company has been catapulted to the top ranks of dance in the UK, winning many awards and accolades for its productions and partnerships. Northern Ballet won the audience award for three consecutive years (voted for by the public) at the National Dance Awards and in 2009 the Patron’s Award recognising the work the Company has done to raise the profile of dance in the UK. In 2016 the Company won the The South Bank Sky Arts Dance Award for 1984, a ballet by Jonathan Watkins.
No other national ballet company gives more performances or tours to as many towns and cities across the UK as Northern Ballet. Mark has an unwavering commitment to ensure that audiences in all parts of the country get to experience the very best classical dance performance. In 2012 he took this a stage further when Northern Ballet began a tour of new children’s ballets throughout the UK. From 2015 - 2017 he extended the Company’s touring further with performances in medium scale theatres, reaching even more towns and audiences.
In 2010 he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, a role which sees him assist the Lord-Lieutenant in carrying out her role as The Queen’s representative. Mark regularly carries out duties in this capacity including laying a wreath at the annual West Yorkshire Remembrance Sunday service.
Always looking for other ways of bringing a diversity of income streams to Northern Ballet, in 2011 he oversaw the purchase of Info Display, a leaflet distribution company for arts and tourism. This business now makes a significant annual contribution to revenues for Northern Ballet. Mark is also Chair of Northern Opera Group and Chair of Info Display.
Through his work he has helped inspire generations of dance fans and he has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of dance audiences in the UK as well as its profile on the world stage.
Header photo by Brian Slater.