Handing Over the Baton

Sho Shibata to Leave Stopgap Dance Company


Today we announce that our Executive Producer Sho Shibata will be leaving the company and heading to OutdoorArtsUK to take up the post of Director.

Although we are sad to see Sho go, we are very proud and excited for him and his new position, in which we are sure to cross paths in the future. 

Sho has helped shape and guide Stopgap over the past 16 years. He has been integral to our strategic direction, helping us transition from a repertory company into the devising company we are today, building strong national and international relationships and cementing our reputation as a global leader of Disability inclusion in dance, as we tour, teach, and share knowledge around the world.

Sho says:

“Stopgap has just performed in front of the King at The Albert Hall when the BBC invited us to perform at the Festival of Remembrance. It was watched by 4.1 million people on TV and had a live audience of 6400. There are many exciting projects coming up too, including the premiere of our new work in April… but Outdoor Arts has always been a passion of mine, and I am keen to take up this opportunity with OAUK. There’s never a good time to leave a company like Stopgap, but with it being in a very strong position going forward, I feel that I’m handing over the baton at the best possible time.”

Co-Artistic Director, Lucy Bennett says:

“In retrospect it is easy to see Stopgap would always loose Sho to the Outdoor Arts. Creating Outdoor dance productions together was where Sho and I first felt the thrill of directing and producing something original with Stopgap’s team of diverse artists. That was 16 years ago and in 2012 Sho and I were lucky enough to be appointed as Stopgap’s new leadership team. So much has happened in the last 11 years. It feels like only yesterday we were sharing our first ideas for devising Artificial Things, developing IRIS and fundraising for the first cohort of Sg2. At times it has been full of joy, imagination, and karaoke and at other times we have been anxious, frustrated, and exhausted. But it was this full range of emotions (plus the karaoke) that contributed to our desire and commitment to do better for Stopgap. We as a company are of course sad to say goodbye to someone who knows every corner of Stopgap, but we are also excited by the prospect of new SG member joining and building on Sho’s firm foundations (and karaoke skills).

I would like to thank Sho for all his support and belief in me as a choreographer and artistic director and I look forward to seeing what he does next with OutdoorArtsUK.”

We wish Sho every success in this new chapter of his life and thank him for all his dedication and hard work over the last 16 years, he’ll be greatly missed. 

We look forward to welcoming a new member to the team next year, bringing new energy and fresh ideas to help continue working toward our vision of an inclusive world where diversity is not just accepted but pursued, a world where no one is limited by prejudice against Deaf, Disabled, or neurodivergent people.

Sho will remain in post until February 2024, with recruitment information for his successor coming soon.