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12 Jun 2021

DanceEast is delighted to announce that its Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Brendan Keaney has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, 2021 and awarded the OBE for Services to Dance.

The honour is acknowledgement of both Brendan’s contributions to the cultural sector and his support of DanceEast’s work in the community as a charitable organisation.

Brendan began his dance career over 40 years ago as an artist – his first professional job was as a dancing sailor in Derek Jarman’s film, The Tempest. He went on to work with a number of independent dance companies, whilst also gaining a string of film, television and theatre credits. Subsequently, Brendan refocused his career to concentrate on arts administration and management – latterly in leadership/artistic direction, including a spell at the (then) Arts Council of England. In 2007 he was awarded Dance UK Industry Award, at the Critics Circle National Dance Awards. Brendan moved on to become Director of Greenwich Dance before taking up his current role of Artistic Director and Chief Executive of DanceEast in 2013, where he has since been credited with transforming the organisation’s artistic programme and developing a significant audience for dance in Ipswich.


The Little Match Girl, Ballo Arthur Pita. Premiere at Jerwood DanceHouse 2013, photo by Phil Conrad.


Brendan is passionate about working to create a brighter future for Ipswich and the East of England and believes that the arts have a critical role to play in rebuilding a collective sense of place that has been partly lost during lockdown. He served on the Board of Ipswich Central, the management company responsible for The Ipswich Business Improvement District, from 2014 to 2021, and is a founding Member of ASSET Education. He has recently joined Suffolk New College as a Governor.


Dance from Home, 2021. Dance Artist Karen Pratt, photo courtesy of DanceEast.


On hearing he had received the award Brendan said “I was both shocked and completely delighted that, after such a tough year, the arts and cultural sector should be recognised in this way. This award is also acknowledgment of the extraordinary work of both the Board and Staff teams at DanceEast. It is a fantastic organisation and prior to lockdown we presented work from the world’s finest national and international choreographers and dance companies and can’t wait to resume our theatre programme in the Autumn. Since 2020 we have been working with both Paul Hamlyn Foundation and BT, developing some digital tools that we firmly believe will be gamechangers for Dance teaching in schools. Hopefully, this award will help these innovations gain some of the attention that they truly deserve.” Brendan Keaney OBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive, DanceEast


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