Industry Highlights: Alumni in Arts

7 April 2022
Yeow Ann,
Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications 2010

The Industry Highlights series feature fellow alumni on a journey of their careers in various industries, sectors, and stories behind the scene. Find out more about our growing domestic and international community of over 70,000 Alumni through unique stories and experiences.

Murdoch Singapore alumnus Yeow Ann (Yohann) found his place in the niche art scene.

With years of work experience in the art industry, Yeow Ann shares some insights on the industry and how the pandemic impacts his job role…

  1. What did you study at Murdoch? What do you do now?

I studied Bachelor of Mass Communication in Communication, Technology & Policy and Public Relations and graduated in 2010. 

I am currently a senior manager (Production Management) at Singapore Art Museum, where I work with various stakeholders in planning, realizing and managing exhibitions and presentations.  

Aside from work, I am an alumni-volunteer with my Singapore secondary school, serving as secretary and administrator for the alumni social media. Our engagement efforts foster closer relationships between the school, students, alumni and retired teaching staff. 

  1. What do you think is Murdoch’s point of difference compared with other universities?

The Murdoch difference sets itself apart by empowering us to be ourselves and to be appreciated for who we truly are! My time at Murdoch taught me many skills and knowledge, through classroom and industry experience, and it prepared me well for the workforce.  

I am grateful for the dedicated teachers, who spent the time and effort preparing the tutorials and assignments. Many of them challenged my thinking with tough, sharp, realistic questions and case scenarios; at the same time, they were always ever so ready to guide and nurture us.  

  1. What motivates you at work, especially while working through the various transformation of the organization such as the current makeover of the museum?  

My biggest satisfaction comes from the successful collaboration of projects and initiatives, it is fulfilling when visitors have a pleasant or engaging experience. Their positive takeaway and meaningful impact are extremely rewarding for me. 

With the transformation of the museum over the years, there are often challenging and intense periods especially when preparing for major festivals or exhibitions (i.e., Singapore Biennale), and most recently for the move and makeover of the museum in 2022. I try to remind myself of the big picture, the end goal, to stay grounded and focused, these are the ways I motivate myself.  

At work, I apply the skills I acquired from Murdoch, especially when engaging with various stakeholders and understanding public perception and responses. The Murdoch experience also made me more tolerant and accepting of the diverse people I work with, especially while facilitating artists with their quirks.  

  1. What drew you to working in the art sector? Any particular intriguing experiences you would like to share? 

The contemporary art scene is energetic with creative people and a constant flow of interesting ideas. Work is unconventional and never mundane! However, it is a challenge to balance creativity while being pragmatic and professional, to successfully finetune these ideas into meaningful productions and engaging presentations (including addressing matters like budgeting, safety, schedule, sensitivity, marketing, logistics and operations etc.) 

I was fortunate to receive several employment opportunities within the local museum scene. I eventually joined the Singapore Art Museum team in 2011. That was a unique time when it was transforming from a traditional art museum into one with renewed energy featuring contemporary art. All these, while organizing the 2011 edition of Singapore Biennale! 

SAM Touch project  

SAM Touch was a unique access/outreach project that I take pride in. It took years to research, create, and develop suitable interactive works and programmes. 

It worked with passionate artists and partners with disabilities, to develop artwork adaptations that were portable, interactive, and engaging to the visually impaired and special needs community during outreach efforts.  

I was also handling the publicity for mainstream media such as CNA, you may watch the episode here 

This project was particularly meaningful for me, and the biggest satisfaction was seeing some of the special-needs audience thoroughly enjoying themselves. 

  1. What have been some of the big changes in your line of work given the COVID-19 threat?

COVID-19 has changed and affected many aspects of my work, such as hybrid work arrangements as well as abiding by evolving pandemic guidelines/restrictions.  

Museums and many public places faced uncertainty and often had to tweak, postpone, or cancel planned presentations and operations, whenever rules are being tightened for public and staff safety.  

Planning of exhibitions and presentations was challenging with the constantly evolving landscape and restrictions, as well as limited visitors or regular postponing or cancelling of projects. 

We started going digital and hybrid, as well as heading to the heartland neighborhoods (particularly through the local libraries) for outreach efforts.  

While the restrictions were important, it was especially challenging for arts and cultural workers who were freelancers in the ad-hoc or gig economy. 

At the same time, instead of ‘big-scale’ presentations; there were several smaller projects done featuring local artists and creative personnel, as well as freelancers and logistic-support personnel.  

One such initiative was Novel Ways of Being, a collaborative piece by the visual arts community to the changes brought about by COVID-19. The series of presentations featured works of over 170 local artists and cultural workers and was a way to continue the outreach while sustaining the industry during a challenging time.  

  1. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Here is one good piece of advice that I received and found relevant: 

‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and he can learn to feed himself for life’  

For me, learning does not stop, and it is lifelong. I continue to challenge and upgrade myself, to be resilient and versatile, to remain relevant and value-add to society.  

  1. Who inspires you?

Nelson Mandela (Among many others!) 

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