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    HKAPA deputy director Chapman Ngan guides campus to formulate anti-COVID measures

    The world has experienced unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 over the course of the last two years.

    Here at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, staff and students have joined together to work out an effective strategy to handle the pandemic.

    Mr Chapman Ngan, who joined the Academy as Assistant Deputy Director (Campus Development and Operations) at the peak of COVID, tapped into his decades of experience in administration and issue management to help the Academy formulate anti-COVID measures that ensured the normal operation for the campus.

    In September last year, Chapman was appointed the Academy’s Deputy Director (Administration), overseeing areas such as campus planning, management of teaching and learning facilities, human resources development, financial management, fundraising, external affairs, and institutional advancement, and guiding the Academy’s operational development. Chapman hopes to fortify the Academy’s administrative efficacy by building upon its solid foundations.

    “I hope to see a strong commitment from both academic and administrative branches to enhance learning opportunities and the learning environment, and to promote performing arts development in Hong Kong,” Chapman says.

    Before joining the Academy, Chapman served in the civil service for more than 30 years, working in different government departments. Over the years, he participated in volunteer work through which he got to know many medical professionals. He originally intended to retire but found himself in a brand-new environment instead.

    When the pandemic struck, the Hong Kong Department of Health needed an experienced commander, and he was appointed to direct and oversee the Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at the AsiaWorld-Expo. “My experiences of this half a year have been most memorable,” Chapman explains. “The epidemic had been evolving, and I had to face sudden issues on a daily basis. It allowed me to acquire a lot of necessary medical and epidemiological knowledge.” Skills and knowledge gained from this unique experience have come in handy when Chapman handles the challenges posed by the pandemic at the Academy.

    “Unlike other universities, the Academy not only grapples with classroom teaching and learning, but also needs to consider rehearsals and performances,” he points out. “Realising that performing arts students cannot rely solely on online learning, we decided on a systematic resumption of face-to-face teaching after assessing all the risks involved. The measures were proven to be effective.”

    Many Different Roles

    Despite being a level-headed strategist, Chapman admits that the Academy’s maze-like campus has often stumped him when asked about interesting experience at the Academy.

    “Colleagues had twice given me a tour of the campus,” he says. “I thought I knew my way. But when I went backstage and explored the back staircases, I lost my way for a long time and eventually had to call for help.” He admits he is still unfamiliar with certain corners of the campus. When having to show VIPs around, he familiarises himself with the route first, leaving markings for himself along the way or he would find a colleague to assist him.

    During my growing-up years, we all watched Hong Kong movies and listened to Cantopop,” he recalls. “I saw them purely as entertainment and didn’t really understand the artistry involved. I am heartened to see the performing arts have risen in popularity. When I first joined the Academy, everything held a certain mystique for me. I became acquainted with many student works. Not only did I watch the performances, I saw the effort behind the scenes. This opened up new vistas for me.”

    Since the past year, various productions have slowly resumed at the Academy. These included many feature performances, dance performances, dramas, film productions, graduation exhibitions and various kinds of concert.

    Chapman says he has enjoyed the student productions in a different manner from the performances he calls in his youth. “The works brought me a whole new viewing experience,” he says. “Even if I could not understand all of their meaning behind right away, as someone outside the profession, I hope to bring new interpretations and viewpoints. Just like painting, it has different interpretations in the eyes of different audiences.”

    Three Chief Goals

    To oversee the construction of the Academy’s first student hostel as well as its new teaching facilities has been one of the most important tasks for Chapman as Deputy Director (Administration). Currently busy with early-phase work, including preparing the launch of various research studies, he hopes that these tasks can be completed soon, allowing the project to enter the next phase of development.

    Chapman’s other main goal is further strengthening the Academy’s administrative practices. This entails raising operational efficiency, refining human resources management, and bolstering resources allocation effectiveness.

    “To do a job well, we need the right tools,” he notes. “The Academy’s operations depend on the collaboration of different teams. Colleagues need to acquire the know-how and skills specific to projects, so we attach great importance to staff training. We organise talks and training, such as a talk on supervisory responsibilities, to let different team leaders understand their responsibilities, and implement measures adequately.”

    Chapman’s third goal is fundraising. He observes that, due to the widespread implications of COVID and Hong Kong’s overall economic slowdown, the Academy needs to exercise caution and thrift when raising funds and deploying donations.

    “The pandemic persists,” he says. “Fundraising activities ground to a halt in the past two years. The Academy needs to find new income sources and transform its short-to-mid-term fundraising strategy. We plan on seeking support from other organisations and charitable foundations. Meantime, we must also diversify the use of the funds raised. Greater flexibility may be introduced into this practice to create a better learning environment for students, such as setting aside money for internal development, including the purchase of equipment and the improvement of campus facilities.”

    Soft Power for Academy Graduates

    When it comes to his plans for the Academy, Chapman looks solemn. As a father of two, his concern extends beyond administrative tasks.

    “Any parent understands that growth means much more than academic achievement, and the importance of intellectual and emotional development,” Chapman says.

    The Academy recently held a few mindfulness workshops to care for the physical and mental well-being of students. “The Academy students I’ve met are all very talented. Whether they eventually choose to stay in the performing arts or to embark on another career, the Academy hopes to give them the required support to raise their competitiveness. Whether in terms of studies, intellectual capability, or communication skills, we hope their development is comprehensive. We boost their competitiveness, so they can face the challenges of life.”

    Four years of university life pass in the blink of the eye. Chapman urges students to value their opportunities and to enjoy their time at the Academy. “I hope our campus imparts a sense of familiarity to new students, which would gradually transform into a sense of belonging,” he says.

    “We should treasure it, whether hardware facilities or a single opportunity to shine on stage. As long as our hearts are in this together, the teachers, staff and students can all scale new heights with the Academy.”

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