Graduates of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA) should be "global artists" of the 21st century - people who are not only professional, artistically, but also excel at communicating through new media, the academy's new director said on his first public appearance yesterday in Hong Kong.
Adrian Walter expressed his ambition to strengthen the position of the academy as a hub for Asian performing arts, and also delivered an eloquent classical guitar performance.
The 56-year-old said one of his key missions would be to improve communication, both by the academy and the students.
"We are not very good at telling people the good things we do," said Walter. "Artists are like that, [but] communication will need to be improved."
Walter said that performing artists centre on a "portfolio career" where they do a range of activities. But one of his missions would be to promote the entrepreneurial qualities of students so they could be productive in the wider field of creative industries.
Walter said he hoped the academy could ride on the new-media and social-media trends. He proposed that the APA produce a smartphone app featuring one-minute performances, from drama to music, by students. He also suggested an APA YouTube channel to promote students' talents.
Formerly the head of the Australian National University's School of Music, Walter was in May appointed by the academy's council to succeed Kevin Thompson, who left after eight years in the job. Walter's appointment was controversial, as the Australian university's music school was going through a restructure resulting in staff cuts.
But his leadership in institutional restructuring earned him a vote of confidence from the selection panel. The APA will also need a revamp following a review, which is still in the draft stage.
Walter admitted that it was a steep learning curve moving to Hong Kong. But he said he had already met a number of officials and key players in the city's culture sector.
He said he would talk to performing arts groups and brush up his knowledge of the city's relationship with the mainland.
"It is a challenge understanding Hong Kong," Walter said. "But I will be open, just learn and listen."