BY MICHELLE STACPOOLE
MEN AT WORK
Darwin Entertainment Centre
It was a chance encounter in 1986 that led to a career and friendship that spanned nearly three decades.
While working with the Arts Council to tour performance groups around the Territory, Alan James met a young Mr Yunupingu, who subsequently became the lead singer of the band Yothu Yindi.
“That started a 25 year journey that ended up with us working in 32 countries around the world,” says Alan.
Yothu Yindi were top ten worldwide in 1991 with their song Treaty, co-written with Paul Kelly and named in one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time.
Managing the band until Mr Yunupingu passed away in 2013, Alan received an Order of Australia Medal in 2005 for his services to the Arts.
During his time with the Yothu Yindi, Alan and the band members were committed to breaking down racism in Australia. He headed up the Yothu Yindi foundation for twenty years, and established the Garma Festival. While no longer actively engaged in that sphere, it is still very much a part of Alan’s life.
“I have a reasonably well developed sense of philanthropy, and social justice issues, equity and equality are of importance to me,” he says.
Inspired professionally by Mr Yunupingu, describing him as a man of vision, Alan is also influenced by the wisdom of Nelson Mandela.
“I spent quite a bit of time in the NGO sector developing an understanding and ethos of giving and how important that is,” he says.
Now the General Manager of the Darwin Entertainment Centre, Alan is tasked with mapping the future of the thirty-year-old venue, programming world class acts for Darwin audiences.
“I’m really on a mission now at the thirty year anniversary to turn the place around and hopefully get it into the shape where it can go for another thirty years. I think it’s a really special facility that we’ve got and it’s very rewarding that Darwin audiences are responding to our program,” he says.
Alan feels that he has been fortunate to work in his chosen field for the duration of his career, and attributes his success to a combination of luck, hard work and tenacity.
“When you feel strongly about something, have the confidence to not let that go. Let it be the driving force,” he says.
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93 Mitchell Street
Darwin NT 0800