Artists are notoriously bad managers and managing the artistic process is considered difficult if not impossible. So the term ‘cultural management’ may raise a few doubts initially, but it is in fact a relatively new discipline which studies how cultural productions can be managed to enhance quality of life and facilitate policy-making.
Prof. Sidney Cheung, Director of the BA Programme in Cultural Management at CUHK, said, ‘The programme aims to develop the entrepreneurial sense and skills of humanities students and train them to be the cultural intermediaries in a diversified economy.’ It focuses on four main categories:
- Cultural heritage, conservation and tourism
- Cultural institutions and programming
- Cultural and creative industries
- Community cultural projects for social enhancement
Joyce Tse joined the programme four years ago because she saw the trend that ‘more attention is paid to culture in Hong Kong nowadays. Through the programme, I hoped to explore the world’s heritage and culture and apply the knowledge to Hong Kong.’
Similar programmes are found in all the renowned universities in China and around the world. CUHK’s is supported by the 13 departments in the Faculty of Arts. Scholarships are available to successful applicants. The programme also supports the students in travel expenses and other fees incurred from joining internships and local cultural events.
First-year students are exposed to a comprehensive scope of cultural industries, such as the arts sector, museums, performing arts, tourism, etc., so that they are able to identify a stream for further pursuit in the subsequent years. In addition, a tailor-made course on Cultural Theories will deepen their analytical power and enables them to connect present needs with the humanities disciplines, which include Chinese history, art history, literature, cultural studies, anthropology, music, etc.
Each course may invite one guest speaker from the field to impart hands-on experiences. Also, most elective courses are designed to take students on field trips to visit cultural institutions in Hong Kong. Occasionally, short trips to mainland China are made.
Joyce has had some very good moments to savour in the programme: ‘The professors are willing to help and provide a variety of examples that help us understand the course contents. My fellow students are friendly and helpful. We share culture-related job opportunities with each other. Sometimes we would be invited to join short exchange trips to, say, Korea, Taiwan and Beijing, where a lot of cultural experimentation is going on, which further broaden our perspectives.’
In a programme as progressive as this one, intercultural exposure is a sine qua non. Professor Cheung said, ‘We have a list of more than 20 local and overseas cultural partners which have since 2014 been taking our student on as interns for a period of two months on a full-time basis. The work nature and scale of these partners vary so that our students will have opportunities to come in contact with different workers in the cultural sectors.’
Joyce echoed, ‘Internship opportunities are provided to us to enable each of us to pursue and develop his/her interest. We have definitely learned and experienced a lot through these internship opportunities, gained valuable hands-on experiences as well as being able to apply the knowledge we acquired from the courses.’
The programme offers two sponsored overseas tours every year. The destinations include China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Nearly 50% of the students take long-term (half to one year) or short-term (up to three months) overseas exchanges. The countries they visit include the UK, the US, Finland, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Korea and Taiwan.
Joyce will soon graduate and she looks forward to working in related fields and spreading the unique culture of Hong Kong to people around the world. Her predecessors, according to Professor Cheung, have worked in the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Hong Kong Dance Federation, local auction houses, to name a few. Others have gone on to further studies in anthropology, museum studies, architecture, heritage studies, etc.
Culture is not only acquired but can also be studied. Joyce’s advice to those who wish to be initiated: ‘If you have passion in learning about the different areas of culture, the BA Programme in Cultural Management would be a wise choice!’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018