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Made in WA: IWD

September 29, 2021

Made in WA: IWD

Perth Symphony Orchestra founder Bourby Webster is one of many WA artists pushing for a ‘Made in WA’ brand recognition.

Although COVID-19 has put a stop to many things, the WA arts scene has not been one of them. Webster said the arts sector gets so bogged down in upcoming work, they forget they have a product that has the potential for so many other benefits.

“We have a monster-market opportunity right now. We are product ready, rehearsed and absolutely exportable,” she said.

Amid the lockdown last year, artists from around WA got together on zoom to discuss how they could lobby the Federal Government to support the arts sector.

A key point of discussion was the need for a funding budget to have ‘Made in WA’ on everything that is being seen from Fringe to festivals and various gigs.

“We just need to elevate our entire arts sector so internationally people sit up and take note of the Perth arts scene.”

This idea was one of the many discussed under the key takeaway theme of ‘Choosing to Challenge’ at the Women in Media WA’s International Women’s Day breakfast held at the Harry Perkins Institute on 8 March 2021.

The event saw around 50 attendees gain inspiration from the music mogul, hosted by co-managing editor of Seesaw magazine Rosalind Appleby.

A short quiz to start the morning revealed Webster was not only a founding member of the UK-based electric string quartet BOND, but she has also been a winner of a 40 Under 40 award.

And to top it all off, she is a medal-winning, international-level rower!

Above all though, she has never let being a woman hold her back. Instead, she chose to challenge the norm by reshaping the nature of classical music and creating an orchestra that ‘breaks the rules.’

When asked what the greatest challenge was facing women in the industry, Webster said most of the time, women don’t even notice the differences. Just like the fact that all of our dining tables and chairs are made for the average male.

“Women are much more likely to get injured in the world because the world doesn’t fit us,” she said.

“We are so conditioned to be women and have the world as it is.

“We need to think how can we redesign a world that is equal, not redesign a world that’s built for an average male?”

Being a passionate believer in creating opportunities for other women is constantly at the forefront for Webster who, two years ago, launched PSO’s ‘Women on the Podium’ initiative – a unique conducting and leadership program targeted at female Western Australian musicians.

“Not only do women have leadership qualities but I think generally, the women I have met in music are very collective, as in they want to do things for others,” she said.

“It’s not about ability at all, it’s all about opportunity.”

Francesca De Nuccio (article)

Amelia Searson (photography)