Anna Moreau chats with Kate Miller, General manager, Barking Gecko Theatre Company.
WABN: Describe a day at work.
KM: “Frantic. Each day has a variety of things in it, such as writing reports, organising board meetings, discussing marketing artwork, education with education personnel, and meeting people to raise more sponsorships.”
WABN: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone to motivate a team?
KM: “We have seven people here. Everyone is following their passion of working in the arts, but you have to manage to get everyone to pace themselves and have a work/family balance.
“I think that you have to set realistic goals on what you can achieve with minimal resources in a competitive field.”
WABN: What was the most challenging event in your career?
KM: “The most challenging event would have been when I worked here in the 1980s as a broadcaster and then moved to Sydney for a bigger position, taking my family and my dogs with me. It was a major role with major challenges.
“The principal thing I learned was the need to pace yourself. I was trying to make too many changes at once, but I realised that I also had the people with me.
“You have to be laid back and know where you want to go, but you also need to bring people with you; they are coming from many different perspectives.”
WABN: What is the main quality are you looking for within your team members?
KM: “Besides artistic skills and specialties, I’m looking for someone who is able to work in a team and who is not defensive about feedback, openness learning attitude and, most of all, humour.”
WABN: What's best measurement of your performance, and can you name a highlight in your career?
KM: “A highlight would be some of the work I did in NSW at the radio branch of the ABC. I was involved with a major change in how all the regional stations were staffed. (It was) a major task to talk people through considerable changes, basically professionalising regional station broadcast.
“In my current position, I think there are several highlights, from production to the opening night and the sheer bliss to see it all come together.
“When we get good responses to that it is a delightful high. We had very good response to our last show, Australia vs South Africa.”
WABN: How do you deal with egos in your workplace?
KM: “I think egos are really a necessary part of the creative process, you don’t have creativity without them.
“You have to understand that and be relaxed about it; humour is a good thing and a bit a red wine at night does wonders.”
WABN: Is there an organisation/business model that you strive to achieve/reach?
KM: “I suppose the organisation model for a tiny place like this has to be as flat as possible.”
WABN: What frustrates you the most about your sector and what would you do to change it?
KM: “My greatest frustration about the small-to-medium theatre sector is the lack of resources. We don’t have enough resources to market our show as effectively as we wish to, and not enough to get as much sponsorship as we need.”
WABN: What are the specific hurdles you meet on a daily basis in your sector?
KM: “The daily basis relates to the lack of resources, again, you can’t just decide to have a new this or that.
“We have to be very careful with our expenditure and we don’t have financial resources to improve things as rapidly as we would like to.”
WABN: Have you read a good book on management/leadership that you can recommend?
KM: “While I don’t read these type of books a lot, I have read Leadership for the disillusioned by Amanda Sinclair from the Melbourne business school, which is about different paradigms of leadership; it embraced a proper work/family balance.”
WABN: Which personality inspired you the most throughout your career?
WABN: Which personality has inspired you the most throughout your career?
KM: “I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of talented people and that is always inspiring; they may be talented in IT, marketing or broadcasting, yet if they do it very well, that’s what I find inspiring.”
WABN: What were you doing before your current position?
KM: “I came back to Perth in 2005 with my partner, who was posted to a new position. I acted as general manager for the Fremantle Arts Centre for three months and did contract work for Management Projects.
“A friend from Sydney phoned me about the position at the Barking Gecko that she’d seen. I would not have thought of applying my skills to a theatre company, but a lot of my experience of dealing with audiences relates really well.”