Paul Selwyn Norton appointed CEO and AD of The Substation

Paul Selwyn Norton

Paul Selwyn Norton is taking up the role of Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of Victorian arts organisation The Substation.

Norton left Western Australia’s Strut Dance company in July 2021 after seven year years leading the company to take up the role of director of the Junction Arts Festival in Launceston, Tasmania. After just one year in that role Norton is on the move again.

At The Substation Norton will succeed Brad Spolding, who left after 7 years to take up a role at Brisbane Powerhouse.

Located in the Melbourne suburb of Newport, the arts venue champions contemporary and experimental arts. Housed inside a former industrial building, the organisation describe their work as an ever-evolving program and artist-led initiatives that support the development of ambitious and inclusive works that defy simple categorisation.

The Substation say Norton is the perfect leader to carry on the transformational work done by their former leader Spolding, and the appointment comes after a rigorous recruitment process. In a media release Norton said he was excited about joining the team.

“My deepest gratitude to the Board for inviting me to be the next custodian, CEO and Artistic Director of The Substation and to become part of the Hobson’s Bay City community. Brad, Michaela and the whole team have embedded The Substation deeply into the cultural landscape both locally and beyond, significantly lifting the programming aspirations, stakeholder investment and audience engagement to brilliant heights.

“It will be an immense honour to add my own entrepreneurial capacity and connectivity to that legacy and together with the team continue to build The Substation into a beacon of creative opportunity in Hobson’s Bay and co-create a vibrant and enticing future for diverse artists, audiences and communities at large.” Norton said.

Norton’s career has seen him progress from as dancer and choreographer to a successful arts administrator and artistic director.

After 12 years of performing with renowned dance companies Batsheva and William Forsythe / Ballet Frankfurt, he set up his own production company in the Netherlands. Using his international experience and network, he then toured leading Dutch entertainment in venues across Europe and North America.

Moving permanently to Australia in 2014, Norton lead Western Australia’s STRUT Dance Company where he engaged some of the most vital and cutting-edge artists in multi-year programs and presentations. Partnerships with such luminaries as William Forsythe, Crysta Pite, Punchdrunk’s Maxine Doyle and Hofesh Shechter went on to launch new cultural precincts and catapult local artists into signature festivals and organisations across Australia and the world.

Norton’s time at Junction Arts was brief, but during his reign he is credited with being able to develop and embed pathways of First Nations, multi-cultural, and LGBTQI+ inclusion into the festival, significantly broadening its programming diversity.

James Lockyer, Chair of The Substation Board, said they were thrilled that they’d be able to recruit Norton to the leadership role.

“The Board are thrilled to welcome Paul to the role of CEO & Artistic Director. Paul’s artistic vision will allow us to continue commissioning and delivering bold programs which champion the diversity of the Western Suburbs, and contribute to the social and cultural richness of Victoria.

“This remarkable venue was originally built to power the suburban rail system, and is now a powerhouse in the local arts ecosystem. The Substation is home to incredible resident companies and artists, and complements other arts venues in Hobsons Bay, Melbourne and Victoria.

“Paul’s wealth of experience will enable him to collaborate extensively and broaden The Substation’s reach even further over the coming years, which will not only increase its impact to communities, but also the sustainability of the creative ecosystem – the sector having been challenged so significantly over the past couple of years.” Lockyer said.

Paul Selwyn Noron will commence his role on Monday 11 July.

Graeme Watson, image: Mitch Aldridge

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