Nominees agree WA is place of opportunity

Iron ore and opera are like chalk and cheese, but one thing David Flanagan and Carolyn Chard agree on is that WA is a place of plentiful opportunity.

The Atlas Iron chairman and WA Opera general manager are among an impressive field of finalists in the running to be named West Australian of the Year 2014 next month.

Mr Flanagan, a philanthropist who founded the Pilbara mining powerhouse a decade ago and is Murdoch University's chancellor, said he saw his nomination in the business category as a chance to celebrate his State.

He said he felt proud Atlas Iron had directly or indirectly touched thousands of people's lives.

"WA is one of the few places where people can get together and do things," Mr Flanagan said. "When people are prepared to change the way they have done things in the past to take crucial opportunities - I love that about Western Australia."

Ms Chard is a WA Academy of Performing Arts graduate who has held leadership roles at WA Opera and Deckchair, Barking Gecko and Black Swan theatre companies.

She said she felt honoured that her staff had nominated her for the arts and culture award.

She said she had worked in the Eastern States but returned to WA Opera because WA was a great place to live with lots of community support for the arts and plenty of opportunities for those passionate about the field.

"Things seem to be moving ahead at the moment, with very big plans for the new museum, and the art gallery and Elizabeth Quay," Ms Chard said.

"We still need more funding and more audience members and we want more sponsorship, but there is also a good news story about having access to all these great companies and a lot of great people, actors and musicians who choose to make WA home."

Other finalists include philanthropist Nicola Forrest, cricket coach Justin Langer, Warmun artist Lena Nyadbi and Fortescue chief executive Neville Power.

The West Australian of the Year is selected from the winners of the individual categories.

The winners will be announced at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 30.

The West Australian

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