It has been a long time since my last blog post and this makes me squirm. The time at which I stopped writing can pretty much be pinpointed to when I started looking in earnest for work here in Hong Kong. These blog posts take time and so does job hunting. The latter has won out.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a senior arts management professional with a focus on marketing and communications strategy. I worked as an independent consultant for the past 15 years in Ottawa, Canada, helping organizations build capacity and managing some major audience development and marketing initiatives.
By default, I have been looking for similar arts admin work here. I am also a pretty fair pianist and musician and so I put out feelers for teaching and accompanying too.
I don’t have a lot to show for my efforts yet. I have made lots of contacts and have put a ton of “stuff” out there, but nothing has come back. Coming to terms with that is complicated: is this just the way things are here in HK or are my expectations unrealistic?
The work-hunting process is draining at the best of times and more so now because everything I do is a cold call. My husband Paul’s involvement in the arts sector has helped a little, but for the most part, every contact I have made has been along the lines of “allow me to introduce myself”. This is hard. And it doesn’t help that I don’t speak the native language here. That in itself eliminates a number of avenues.
The arts marketing sector here is, quite honestly, a little under-developed. The people doing this work are seriously compromised by the lack of a good box office system that tracks buyers’ habits, and marketing practices are about 25 years out of date. Furthermore, there is no culture of fundraising here; arts groups are almost totally dependent on the government, which I think is dangerous and unsustainable.
So what happens when someone with my experience comes along? There aren’t many opportunities just waiting. And as for my search for music-related gigs, well, talk about cold calls. I have to be honest: it has been decades since I have had a piano student. I’ve done lots of coaching and some playing during my arts admin career, but to hang out my shingle as a teacher takes contacts and introductions … and time.
I’m not very patient. The time I have invested and lack of response have made me a little cranky. But all of a sudden, a few doors have opened this past week. I’ll say no more about that now, but hopefully I will have some news to report on this front soon.
In the meantime, my daughter is visiting from Canada, very happily for Paul and me. Tomorrow, we leave for a short trip to China (Guilin and Beijing) and I’m taking a break from the work of looking for work while she is here. Of course, it’s not like I haven’t had any fun in the past weeks. I’ve done some lovely hikes with friends, met new friends, taken a cooking course, gone to concerts and explored much more of Hong Kong. Also, the weather is warm and the outdoor pools where we live are open (and there are pool boys!!), so how bad can it be?!
I will make every effort to get back to blogging regularly as soon as I return from our vacation. I really appreciate your feedback, and writing this blog has been good for me and a great way of chronicling our adventures here. Looking for work in a strange country is certainly part of that adventure. I promise to keep you posted.