The founder of the BBC Asian Network in the West Midlands, Anita Bhalla OBE, one of the region’s leading voices for the arts believes the arts are a huge asset in terms of learning, community cohesion, and education. Anita made the comment after being conferred with an honorary doctorate during one of the University’s 2016 graduation ceremonies.
Anita’s 26-year media career with the BBC has been varied; from being one of the first regionally based bi-media correspondents to being Head of the BBC’s Public Space Broadcasting. She has also presented Channel 4’s Eastern Eye and other national programmes. Anita is currently Chair of Performances Birmingham Ltd (Town Hall and Symphony Hall), Chair of the Creative City Partnership, Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and recent past Chair of MAC (Midlands Arts Centre).
Anita said, “I have always been attracted the arts, from acting when I was at school to school trips to the RSC, then almost 20 years as Midlands arts centre as a trustee. I think the arts are a huge asset in terms of learning, community cohesion, to open up a different dialogue with people and education in the broader sense of the word. The arts are fantastic for opening doors.”
A trained teacher who turned her hand to becoming a Community Relations Officer in Leicester, a Community Worker in Handsworth, Birmingham, where she set up and ran one of the first hostels for Asian Women, as well as dealing with wider issues around welfare and social care.
Anita explains how this led her into a career in broadcasting,
“Because I had set up the hostel, BBC 2 Brass Tax made a programme about my work that I featured in. Following this I was approached by a producer who asked me to start reporting.
“I was given an old fashioned reporting kit and was asked to go out reporting. I ran my career as a freelance broadcaster in tandem with my job at the time as a lecturer.”
On receiving her honorary doctorate, her advice to students at the university was,
“You must always have a plan A, a plan A is really important but if your plan A doesn’t work, remember there are 25 more letters in the alphabet! Be flexible and keep on learning new skills as you go along.”
You can listen to her exclusive interview following the ceremony here:
Alex Buxton - Media Relations Manager
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