By Elizabeth Labiner
Kevin Chau is a relatively newly-minted UA alumnus; he graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and a minor in Entrepreneurship in January 2018. Shortly after graduating, Chau visited Australia and came across a job opening at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Now, he’s the Development Coordinator at QPAC, Queensland’s largest arts centre. QPAC hosted over 1.57 million attendees for over 1200 performances during the 2017-18 fiscal year.
As the Development Coordinator, Chau works with many of QPAC’s internal units, such as marketing, programming, ticketing, as well as most of QPAC’s external partners. He explains, “My primary responsibility is to manage QPAC’s corporate partnerships, to make sure their benefits are delivered and continue building relationships with our partners. My other responsibilities include researching potential partners, generating internal and external reports, as well as hosting our VIPs as needed.”
Chau knew early on that he did not want to go into academia after earning his doctoral degree. He felt very supported by his advisor, Dr. John Milbauer, in pursuing non-traditional additions to a fine arts degree:
I took an interesting route with my doctoral degree, in that I pursued an independent doctoral minor at the McGuire Centre for Entrepreneurship. Having been trained as an artist, but also having a business background, definitely helped me in this role, where I sit in the business side of a performing arts organisation. Being able to understand the challenges the creative side of the organisation faces while I am in the business side definitely helps facilitate stronger communication between internal units. The Development Unit at QPAC is relatively young, and we are taking things in directions that the organisation has not gone before. In many ways, this is a type of corporate entrepreneurship that my minor degree definitely helped prepare me for.
Along with the knowledge and experience gained through his doctoral minor, Chau also held an administrative graduate assistantship as the Events Director with the Graduate and Professional Student Council, where he oversaw a number of large-scale events on campus while liaising and collaborating with various offices. That experience, Chau says, definitely piqued his interest in pursuing a career in fine arts administration.
Though Chau has only been in his position since May, he is appreciative of the myriad networking opportunities it has already provided. “The office I work in is quite unique within the QPAC in that I work with both internal units and external partners, and from these interactions, I am learning a lot about not only the performing arts industry in Australia, but the general business environment through our partners from various industries.” In regard to his future plans, he remarks, “I hope to continue working within the fine arts industry, and hope to take on a leadership position in the future. I hope to be able to realize my visions where I think the performing arts industry should head towards, based on my own artistic vision, as well as the business expertise I am gaining through my current role.”