20/08/2008 - 22:00

Culture Corner: Jessica Machin, Country Arts WA

20/08/2008 - 22:00


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Jessica Machin CEO of Country Arts WA (3 months)

Culture Corner: Jessica Machin, Country Arts WA
Jessica Machin

WABN: Describe a day at work.

JM: "The art of persuasion, by engaging with leaders in business, government, and other disciplines in forging strategic partnerships to bring long-lasting positive change in regional communities in WA.

"Building capacity and creative capital, inspiring others in innovative and creative practices, with a particular focus on indigenous arts and culture, young people, technology and professional development."

WABN: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone to motivate a team?

JM: "Seek out the best in people, encourage and develop their strengths and have a shared vision and goal. Celebrate success and welcome challenges and remember to listen and understand people's needs and manage expectations."

WABN: What has been the most challenging event in your career?

JM: "Being the executive producer of the 16th ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival - the world's largest and most important cultural event for young people. By gathering the best team of people to run the event and then getting out of their way. To work with people who have integrity, compassion and generosity of spirit."

WABN: What is the main quality are you looking for within your team members?

JM: "Passion, constancy of purpose, and a sense of humour."

WABN: What's best measurement of your performance, and can you name a highlight in your career?

JM: "The success of others [is the best measure of my performance].

"Highlights include the establishment of the $1,000,000 BHP Billiton Youth Arts Fund and winning the inaugural 2007 Australian Business Arts Foundation - Australia Council Young People in the Arts award. Being a State finalist in the 2006 Telstra Women's Business Awards, and establishing a major arts and health project in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, which saw a young Anangu artist performing with Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu at the International Indigenous Dreaming Festival in Queensland."

WABN: How do you deal with egos in your workplace?

JM: "Stroke them. You can never give enough praise."

WABN: Is there an organisation/business model that you strive to achieve/reach?

JM: "Country Arts South Australia, which has a well-developed regional arts development officer network in the regions, funded by state and local government and business partners."

WABN: What frustrates you the most about your sector and what would you do to change it?

JM: "Duplication and the silo mentality that can manifest itself. Identifying novel ways to find solutions and leverage cross-sector partnerships and investing in human capital and skills development."

WABN: What are the specific hurdles that you meet on a daily basis in your sector?

JM: "High turnover and burnout of skilled people in the regions, which is exasperated by the rising costs of petrol and living costs. There is an emerging issue of boom towns running on empty and the transient nature of the populations in these towns.

"We are dealing with the first issue, by developing professional development initiatives and exploring how we can encourage others to do less better. The emerging issue is best dealt with by forming strategic partnerships with development commissions and local governments, sharing resources and lobbying government to establish a 'joined up approach' and develop arts and cultural policies and programs, which bring communities together in celebrating their uniqueness."

WABN: Have you read a good book on management/leadership that you can recommend?

JM: "I recently read a wonderful article published by Harvard on the imperfect leader, which focused on how no leader is perfect and how important it is to surround yourself with people who are better than you in areas that you are weak in. To embrace problems as they are pathways to improvement and learning."

WABN: Which personality inspired you the most throughout your career?

JM: "Stephen Page, artistic director, Bangarra Dance Theatre, who told me once that a great idea has such energy that it is like a dragon and you just have to jump on its back and ride it."

WABN: What were you doing before your current position?

JM: "CEO/artistic director - Carclew Youth Arts and executive officer, South Australian Youth Arts Board."


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