06/08/2008 - 22:00

Culture corner: Belinda Dunbar

06/08/2008 - 22:00


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Belinda Dunbar, His Majesty's Theatre deputy general manager (8 years) and executive producer of the Brainbox Project (3 years)

Culture corner: Belinda Dunbar
Belinda Dunbar

Belinda Dunbar, His Majesty's Theatre deputy general manager (8 years) and executive producer of the Brainbox Project (3 years)

WABN: Describe a day at work.

BD: "There are the imperatives each day - like getting the show up on time - but everything else is very organic and you just have to roll with the punches and be prepared to work as long as it takes, which can mean a lot of late nights."

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

BD: "Listen. Get to know your team as human beings and be empathetic. Loyalty and respect have to be earned and you must be open and honest at all times. Never ask your team to do something that you cannot do yourself - people will respect you as a leader if they know you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk."

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

BD: "The first year of getting The Brainbox Project up and running was tough. It takes a while to build new audiences, credibility and brand awareness, and riding that first year out took its toll. What I did learn, however, was not to doubt my own inner voice and to keep my eye on the bigger picture at all times."

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

BD: "A strong work ethic and a passion for your artform that is not driven by a desire for celebrity or to be near celebrity. Many people come into this industry with stars in their eyes and only find disappointment. Once you are behind the smoke and mirrors it is all just hard work that can takes years to pay off, and sadly for many in this industry it never does, so you have to really want to be here."

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

BD: "Regardless of whether I am producing, writing or directing, it is always about two things - working with amazingly talented people who just inspire you to keep trying, and experiencing how audiences react to the final product. Watching people enjoy something I wrote or collaborated on is always an amazing feeling. I like to think my career highlights are still ahead of me."

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

BD: "Everybody has an ego, some are just healthier than others. In fact I will respect anyone whose talent is as great if not greater than their ego, it is when it is the other way round that we are going to have a problem."

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

BD: "The arts is the one industry that cannot be process driven as it is the immeasurable intangibles that are the very essence of what we do. There is no one correct approach; however from a financial point we must be accountable and I do think that can get a bit lost in the mix for some."

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

BD: "We lack a cohesive bipartisan long-term vision for Western Australia culturally. It is going to take more than just financial investment, it is going to take leadership and a shift in priority within our community. If people had as much passion for the arts as they have for football, imagine what we could achieve."

WABN: Who is someone that you dream to work with?

BD: "I do have my secret fantasies but I am keeping those to myself just in case one day one of them actually comes true, and then that person turns out to be really horrible. It has already happened to me and it was such a downer."

WABN: Have you read a good book on management/leadership that you can recommend? What was so good about it?

BD: "I was given the book Nice Girls Don't Get The Corner Office (Lois P. Frankel) as a gift - every woman in business should read it - I wouldn't prescribe to it completely, but it was an eye opener."

WABN: What is your favorite hobby?

BD: "Reading. I read anything and everything, but I have a not-so-secret love of the trash mags. I know I am just feeding the beast but it is a wonderful way of switching off from reality for a while. It's a girl thing."

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

BD: "Surprisingly, Madonna. It may not be cool to say that but who cares? I have been in the entertainment industry almost my whole life and she has provided the soundtrack, and she is a strong example of what hard work, tenacity, and a little bit of chutzpah can achieve."

WABN: Who has influenced you personally?

BD: "The women in my life - my mother, my grandmother and my sister. I grew up within a very matriarchal family where the men never stood a chance."

WABN: Who has influenced you professionally?

BD: "My CE Rodney Phillips has been a fantastic mentor in learning 'the biz'. Artistically my two closest collaborators, James Brookes and Tim Cunniffe, constantly inspire and encourage me."

WABN: What were you doing before your current position?

BD: "Television programming. It did nothing for me creatively as it is all about ratings - but it toughened me up business-wise."


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