Who got that job?

29th May 2009 at 01:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in The TESS? This week, Alan Dear swaps a circus caravan for the stage

Having left the circus behind him, Alan Dear is coming back to his roots by becoming the new head of Dundee College's performing arts and sports centre.

Mr Dear, 44, was raised in Forfar, where his parents still live. "I'd been hoping to move back, but not unless it was for the right job."

Dundee, he feels, has a lot going for it in terms of the arts. There is The Space dance centre and its Scottish School of Contemporary Dance (which now fall under his remit). In addition, the Dundee Rep Theatre plays host to Scotland's only full-time resident company of actors and contemporary dancers.

He has watched both grow and blossom from afar, he says. But in the early 1980s, while studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, he had more of a hands-on role and was involved with the "big community plays" that came out of the Rep.

His career since then has been varied, but education has been the common thread, he claims. "I love working with people in workshops and seeing that light bulb come on," he says. "There's a lot of job satisfaction to be had out of other people's successes."

After graduating from the RSAMD, Mr Dear continued his studies, completing a postgraduate diploma in theatre arts at University College Cardiff. He stayed in the city for three years as assistant director of the Sherman Theatre but was tempted back to Scotland in the late 1980s to set up the Dundee City Festival, which brought together 500 activities, everything from allotment competitions to the city's jazz festival.

That was followed by a stint as an arts officer in the City of Westminster, then a bout as head of education for Welsh National Opera and a period as chief executive of the Royal College of Organists. His last post was with the Welsh animal-free circus, Nofit State Circus. "I lived in the back of a truck for a year and travelled all over Europe," he says.

Mr Dear was the circus's merchandise commercial manager. However, it is like a family, he explains, and he ended up mucking in with everything. "You could be working in the kitchen, running educational workshops or working behind the bar."

The post at the college will be Mr Dear's first experience of working in formal education and he will be responsible for 600 students and 70 staff, some of whom will be passionate about sport, not the arts.

Mr Dear admits the two appear at first glance to be unrelated, but argues a culture of health and well-being binds them. "Dance and drama require fit people as well," he points out.

Courses in the pipeline, and soon to be revealed, will make the connections even more explicit, he promises.

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