Trustees’ Week: Many voices. Working together. With purpose.

Our mission is to inspire, educate, and foster positive change, and we believe that this celebration of #TrusteesWeek with an EDI focus is a step in the right direction.

We spoke with two of our Trustees, Paul Liburd MBE and Samira Saidi, to ask them about their experience of being a DPF Trustee, including the importance of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion within our charity.

Who are you and why did you become a DPF Trustee? 

Paul Liburd: I am a former dancer with various companies here in the UK and at present a member of the teaching faculty at Rambert School and London Studio Centre. I believe I bring my background and knowledge as a professional dance artist, teacher, and mentor, all these areas of people we aim to assist. 

Samira Saidi: After graduating from The Royal Ballet School, I danced with Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet for 12 years and continued for another 8 years when the Company relocated to Birmingham becoming The Birmingham Royal Ballet. After retiring from dancing, I became a teacher, coach and choreographer, working mainly with ballet students both in the UK and internationally, eventually working full time at Elmhurst Ballet School. In 2012 I accepted the position of Director of Dance at English National Ballet School and in 2017, I moved to The Royal Ballet School to lead their UK and international Intensive Courses, plus their overseas auditions. In a recent move, I accepted the position of Guest Répétiteur with The Royal Ballet. I am delighted to be a member of the Board.

The theme of Trustees Week 2023 is "Many voices. Working together. With purpose." What do you as an individual bring to the group of voices on the DPF Board? 

Paul: I became a Trustee as I know from personal experience the value and benefits of this charity. As a dancer, I sustained an injury and help from the fund enabled me to have the required treatment enabling me to get back to the studio and stage with a much faster timeline. If I can help in the decision-making to reduce the pressure on dancers, (present and former), teachers, and performers when injured, in hardship or undertaking retraining, I am most happy and willing to do so. 

Samira: I have enjoyed such a varied career within the world of ballet and I am also the parent of a son who chose to pursue a career as a professional ballet dancer. I feel that my experience and accumulated knowledge equips me to have a clear understanding of life as a professional in the dance world, particularly the ballet world. I endeavour to bring that experience to the DPF Board. 

What have you learned as a DPF Trustee so far?

Paul: Becoming a DPF trustee has offered valuable learning experiences, collaborating and working as a team in decision-making. This has increased my self-confidence and personal growth, which are valuable in various aspects of life. 

Samira: I have learned that each and every one of the Trustees share the same goal. Those of us on the applications committee assess each case with exactly the same care and attention to ensure that we are fair and transparent in every decision made. We strive to do our best, we look back to make sure we are correct and confident with our decisions and we consistently look forward to ensure that we are current and progressive.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a Trustee? 

Paul: If you are thinking of becoming a Trustee, take the time to consider your decision. Becoming a Trustee is a significant commitment of time, energy, and responsibility. Take the time to reflect on whether you are genuinely interested in fulfilling the role and are willing to dedicate the necessary resources to carry it out effectively. 

Samira: I would say if you are interested in helping and supporting, and you’re able to give your time to do it, then don’t hesitate. The most difficult aspect really is being available for various meetings if you also work full time, but having Zoom meetings does help! I think if you join any Board as a trustee, you have to be prepared to commit.

How important is Diversity & Inclusion to the DPF boards and why is it important?

Paul: We as an organisation reach out, welcome and attract a broad section of people, so I believe it is important the trustees reflect this so we can help and echo the people we aim to help.

Samira: My personal experience, throughout a long and varied career, is that diversity and inclusion has been, mostly, an inherent part of any company I’ve worked with. Perhaps I was lucky? National statistics show us the reality of today’s state of diversity in most workplaces, however, I do believe that the dance world is better than most at inclusion and is certainly getting better with diversity.  

As part of the DPF team, by making people feel comfortable and confident in an inclusive environment, we will only perform better as a group, able to come up with more creative solutions to help us solve some of the issues we are presented with. As a group, we have a variety of work experiences and backgrounds which allows us to access an array of perspectives and knowledge.   

Diversity and Inclusion is important because we know how beneficial and elevating it is to any business and of course to each individual.

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