Ever wondered what it would be like a part of the Orchestral Management program at AYO National Music Camp? Deborah Ng takes us through her journey, gives us a taste of what it’s like to work behind the scenes, and lets us know what she’s been doing since!

Deborah NG
Deborah Ng

I first became interested in arts administration a few years ago when I was living in the UK. The opportunity came up to do part-time admin work at the Royal College of Music where I was studying piano performance, and I discovered that I really enjoyed getting involved behind the scenes of an arts organisation.

Shortly before moving back to Melbourne, I decided to apply for AYO’s Arts Administration program (now called Orchestral Management) at National Music Camp (NMC). A friend of mine had previously participated in the Words About Music program, and I remembered how highly he spoke of his experience and the opportunities that arose from it. He also had wonderful things to say about the AA program, and I thought it would be a great foot in the door for me.

Prior to NMC, I had only experienced music camps from a performer’s perspective, and so I found the program to be incredibly insightful. There was a heavy focus on orchestral and stage management – I had no idea how much there was to do behind the scenes! Our schedule was incredibly busy with late nights and early starts – it was a unique opportunity to be thrust into a busy environment and entrusted with big responsibilities straight away. Throughout the camp, it was always so fulfilling to see the orchestra performing on stage and to know that you played a part in making that concert happen.

In addition to the operational side of things, we were privileged to have attended lectures given by a number of industry professionals, many of whom had made the transition from performing to arts management. They spoke to us about varied aspects of Arts Administration, from Marketing to Artistic Planning to Philanthropy. I enjoyed these lectures immensely as they opened my eyes to areas I was keen to explore further. My advice to those interested in pursuing Arts Administration is to be open to anything. It is a very broad industry, and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that you have skills and passions for areas you may not have immediately considered.

Three Fellowships were made available as part of the program, and I was given the wonderful opportunity to take on a Fellowship with Opera Australia. I assisted the Touring & Outreach department with organising a national tour for The Magic Flute, and it was a great learning experience. In particular, I loved gaining new perspectives through working with people who came from a stage production or theatre background, rather than the classical music world I was more familiar with.

Since the Fellowship concluded, I have been working part-time with the AYO Development team, as well as continuing to teach and perform. Being part of the Development team has been extremely rewarding, and it is work that constantly challenges me. I am involved with fundraising campaigns, scholarships and alumni activities. One of the highlights is being able to engage with many of the lovely people I met at National Music Camp! I’m so grateful for the opportunities that have arisen since participating in the program, and am excited to see where the Arts Administration path will take me.