I applied for the internship curious to find out what really goes on behind the scenes of the Arts events in school. And I did gain some insights, but more significantly, my experience filled me with a greater desire to pick up more content, skills and experience related to the Arts.

In my short stint with NUS Centre for the Arts (CFA), I had the opportunity to peek into the Arts sector through a marketing and communications perspective. As a 4th year Literature major, this was all very new as it took me outside fictional worlds of (often terribly chim) words into a realm of concrete possibilities – possibilities made real. It also made me realize how vibrant campus life is in NUS – something that is often forgotten, overlooked or completely unheard of for those of us who spend our time shuttling from one seminar to another, or squirrel away in library cubicles. Simply scrolling through the Arts events calendar (here) reveals the sheer variety of Arts events available to us students. The best part is these events are often held on campus and are largely free.

One of the events I attended – partly as a blissfully blur student and partly as a relatively-more-alert intern was Arts Connect. It was a networking session for Arts practitioners and students keen to join the Arts industry. The panel was diverse and included panelists Chng Hak Peng, CEO of Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Emi Eu of STPI, Gaurav Kripalani, Director of Singapore Repertory Theatre, and K Rajagopal, an award-winning filmmaker. The session was complete with a question and answer segment and networking with various arts organizations such as Esplanade, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art and so on.

It was comforting to realize that some of these heavyweights of the Arts industries only stumbled into the Arts later in life. This made me realize that among other things, I did not need to have everything all figured out at this relatively young age. It was alright to try, experiment and learn in order to grow, instead of needlessly chasing and pushing oneself to fit a square mold. The panelists shared their first foray into the Arts, the meandering journeys that led them to where they are today, key insights into the industry such as what to expect when one enters for real and both soft plus hard skills required in this evolving day and age. They also shared some practical tips to first get one’s foot into the door or in the case of theatre, onto the stage. I was grateful to have met similarly curious minded people who sought opportunities to contribute more to the Arts in the ways they can. The sharing by the panelists were simultaneously humbling and inspiring, and I believed many minds were lit at the end of the night.

Aside from Arts Connect, my supervisor and colleagues exposed me to a variety of tasks under marketing and communications. Some of my larger tasks include research on museums’ digitization as well as the transcription and analysis of focus group discussions on how to improve CFA’s engagement with the student population. The former was interesting as I learnt more about the strategies of the museums both local and abroad to digitize their collections. Singapore Philatelic Museum even has a virtual tour of the exhibition space that offers a rather comprehensive view of the exhibit, without one even having to step foot into the museum. This small research on my part helped satiate some questions I had on museology such as the relation of objects to spaces, and the evolving landscape of museums as we are increasing immersed in the digital. I also compiled data and conducted data analyses on transcriptions of student focus groups which yielded some interesting insights. I learnt how students mostly define the arts as a medium of expression of themselves, a little more about their social media habits in relation to the Arts while questioning my own, and was pleasantly surprised by some of their provocative answers to the questions posed. The discussions on the importance of Arts and the interplay of Arts and creativity also sparked my interest.

Through tasks large and small, I learnt to hone my organizational skills, and gained insights into an industry which was previously fascinating but foreign to me.

Before I retreat to my cave where assignment after assignment awaits me, I would like to express my gratitude to the people in CFA who offered me this opportunity to work with them despite my tight schedule. I have learnt much from the conversations I have partook in, the work that I have been tasked with, and the people I have met. I am sad to go so soon as I feel that this is but a small foray into the larger world of the Arts which I have not gotten enough of. I hope to continue volunteering in the small capacity I can afford to in a sector I deeply admire. Thank you for having me.