Community Interest Representative
I often say that my CV only makes sense to me. If I try to explain it to someone else, they look at my different involvements (such as the Sydney Theatre Company, Australian Football League, Australia Council, Virgin Australia, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions) and say, ‘That’s just ridiculous; it makes no sense at all.’
I think it really goes back to growing up in a military family, regularly on the move. I am the eldest of four girls and we soon learned that the only way to get on in a new place was to just fit in. I had to learn how to talk to everybody and how to listen to people and to understand what connected us. Over the years, getting deeply involved with different communities quite rapidly, and then moving on, became very easy; almost a skill.
One of the great problems in contemporary society is that we are trapped within our tribes. And those tribes often don’t know or trust one another. I think no matter which tribe we belong to, whether it’s the arts, science, sport, not-for-profit or corporate, we’re all driven by the same desires.
At a very basic level we all want similar things - a good quality of life, good relationships, healthy families and a sense of beauty in our lives. We want progress, a sense of connection and that moment where we can be lifted out of the ordinary to the inspiring.
In the arts, we often talk about an issue as though it specifically relates only to this sector (for example, equity for women) but it’s actually something I’ve experienced in every organisation I’ve been part of.
I’ve heard exactly the same debates in football administration as I’ve heard in arts administration. It might be ticket pricing, growing and developing our audiences, or the difficulties of following a passion. In football there’s elite athleticism; in the arts it’s the craft, the acting, the writing, the composing. In all fields, following a passion is often a very quiet and lonely journey.
When I get involved with people in an organisation, I try to pull back the top layers of how they describe themselves or their relationships with other parts of society. I’m constantly trying to help them find common ground with others outside their group. I love knitting and I often think this is like knitting relationships – combining yarns and creating new fabrics.
Imagine if we just learned to drop the labels, the fear, the ‘tribe language’ and how to speak with, and listen to, one another? If we could learn from good ideas from wherever they might have begun? I often look at two people and think, ‘If I could just get them together, I know something magical would happen.’