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Cork Profile: Sinéad Dunphy

Thursday, 19th April, 2018 9:34am

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

I’ve always wanted to work in the arts, running a festival or venue but I also wanted to be a doctor or a vet on the side!

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I’ve been working from a young age and got my first bar job at 15. From there I started programming gigs and turned most bars I ended up running into live music venues. From there, I worked in accountancy practises and even a bank to gain financial experience and once I had that under my belt, I started a job in the Opera House in business development. Then moved into marketing and PR, set up my own company offering PR services and also started teaching drama and directing shows as my formal education had been in this area. From the Opera House, I got a call one day about a job in the Cork International Choral Festival and then only the Jazz Festival just gone, had a conversation about taking over the jazz and the rest is history. I’ll be leaving the Choral Festival after this edition of the festival is over and although sad to say goodbye to the festival, I’m super excited to be running the Jazz Festival.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

Organising, programming and then the clincher is seeing it all come together – looking down on an audience from the lighting desk and knowing that I made it happen – pure elation!

What motivates you?

My passion for the arts, whether it’s theatre or music, I’m there with a full heart of enthusiasm and willingness to make it work.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the naysayers – only you know what’s best and always believe!

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I’d be teaching acting and directing theatre full time – it’s a no brainer!

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

I think growing the Cork International Choral Festival to what it is today in my six year tenure is a massive career achievement, which was topped off by winning Business Woman of the Year in the Arts with Network Cork, recognising my work in the arts and tourism sector last year, made it all the sweeter. And to top it the day I got offered the jazz job – an absolute dream come true!

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My dad, Vincent – a solid mind and always good for sound advice – I’ve some incredible friends who are great advisors but no one beats my dad on that front – a sound man!

What is the life dream now?

At this point – I just want to move into my new job and make the Jazz Festival the best it has ever been, maybe buy a house and just be happy with my lot…

How do you switch off?

I don’t understand this question! But really, I rarely switch off, meeting friends for good food, good wine and maybe doing some cooking and baking myself often gets me to do less work but not completely!

What is your favourite Cork memory?

The first drive up the quays when I saw the Opera House and thought to myself, I’m gonna work there!

What is your favourite place in Cork?

I’d have to say nothing beats sitting in Fitzgerald’s Park with a nice picnic in the sunshine – pure bliss!

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

Katherine Hepburn once said: "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun!" and it’s something I live by – work hard, play hard and enjoy every bit of both!

When are you at your happiest?

Curled up on the couch with my little dog Daisy – just the simple comforts!

Any regrets?

None that I’m willing to admit to in print!

What is your hidden talent?

Maybe my ability to scare grown men in a work setting?!

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m a fairly open book to be honest – I am what I am, but maybe some people would be surprised to know that I’m terrified of driving – it just really bothers me. I drove before but had to give up because of the fear of it!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

With my tenure with the Cork International Choral Festival coming to an end, I’d really just like to say how blessed I’ve been to have had this job – it’s been a roller coaster but absolutely worth it. I know I’ll be buying my tickets every year going forward to support this incredible festival and help keep it alive as Cork’s longest running festival. All the people on the board, that volunteers, my wonderful staff are absolute legends and I’ll miss them hugely so it’s really a big thank you to all of them!

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