20 January 2016

Why Arts Management?

“Why did you change your studies to Arts Management,” was the question that people were constantly asking over the last eight months. After being qualified for the interview for AM, every exhibition, opening, event etc… Sadly I began to question why was I in Arts Management. Did I choose the ‘right’ path? Was I learning enough? Was I satisfied with the course outline? Why am I here? Was I happy? Like a record player on loop, they constantly filled my mind.

I studied Fine Arts for my Diploma, which kick-started the path I took to AM. While pursuing my studies, I gained wonderful opportunities to meet with practitioners and was able to curate a show with an artist during my internship last year. On occasions, I would hear of feedbacks from practitioners of their experiences with galleries and managers. Whether the comments were positive or negative, it made me curious of the practice and did another internship with a well-known commercial gallery. I am and always will be extremely grateful for the experience that they gave, as they understood my needs and readily answered the questions that I had, gaining a great deal of respect of the work behind the white walls. I even remembered presenting my first resume, writing about how my goal (then, not to say that I've stopped thinking about it) was to find a new way to bridge the community and the Arts. My lecturer said that that was not what a practitioner does and I should change the entire structure of my sentences to fit into the criteria of a practicing artist, based on the standards on my project brief. Regardless, she mentioned it was a job of a curator, manager or an arts administrator, developing my curiosity towards the management side of the arts.

During my final year in FA, I had to contemplate if I wanted to continue and get a bachelor in FA. This was not to say that I would stop completely in my practice. I knew that certain questions could not be easily accessed if I had carried on in my studies. Questions such as government funding,  understanding cultural policies, commercial art sector,  etc.. AM provided these answers while still keeping the passion for the Arts. It also imparts a strong foundation, in both theory and practice, to manage an arts organization or event and specialise in a specific field in my thesis writing. Additionally, there's a line of opportunities available for students to volunteer that provides experiences in different facets of management.

As of now, I'm unsure of what will happen in the next ten years. However, I do plan to have a list that I hope to achieve, which shamefully includes increasing intrinsic value of the arts among individuals, supporting expression for artists and showcasing a variety of works while being engaged in a South East Asian context. They don't sound much but these are pretty high standards. As to answer my first question, I think did choose the 'right' path. There were other factors and events that have helped me to know what I wanted that were not written here (curiosity drives me everywhere). I will still continue to do prints and hopefully, be able to commit to both of my practice in the fine arts and arts management. Using my prior knowledge and experience, I hope (please) to do my best and be someone/somewhere that I am happy with surrounded by the arts in the future.

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