Spotlight on Alumni: Albert Tam
I graduated from York with my BFA in Theatre Production in 2011 with some interesting options. The first was to aim for policy writing related to the arts and culture and study law at another university in Ontario. The other was to go work in the Theatre Arts Department at The Banff Centre as an Assistant Production Manager out west. Ultimately, my Theatre heart won out and I headed West and got to work with tons of great artists and shows, like Sam Roberts Band, Dan Mangan, City & Colour, and LIVE! With Kelly Banff.
After The Banff Centre, I came back home to York as a staff member where I worked coordinating the Fine Arts Summer Intensive. It was a blast being back and it definitely diversified my work experience. It also had me start to think that the arts and business are two ideas that we cannot keep apart, despite what some business and arts people sometimes think!
Now I’m studying my MBA at Wilfrid Laurier University with the goal of working in Not-For-Profit Management for the arts. It’s an exciting program and my theatre training definitely places me in a good spot with my interpersonal, time management, and creative analysis skills. I’m sure everyone keeps saying it, but with a Fine Arts degree, you can do almost anything!
What was the most challenging aspect or experience of training/studying at York?
The workload because it’s not a walk-in-the-park. The faculty – they don’t chintzy out on the size and scope of the projects and the time and quality demands. It was a challenge and I can’t recall getting much sleep, but the return on investment based on the depth of my education was worth it.
What was one thing you enjoyed about York that was outside of the Theatre?
I was President of the Creative Arts Student Association (CASA), the Faculty of Fine Arts Student Government, in my 4th year and it was an amazing experience. I met a whole network of people outside my program and those connections have helped me get jobs: first at The Banff Centre, then again as a staff member at York. They say it’s all about who you know, but you only get to know those people if you put yourself in those positions of opportunity! CASA did that for me.
Do you have any advice or tips for York students just about to graduate? About to join the job market?
Anything is possible. I know that sounds like a Hallmark card that you would give someone on their first day of school, but it’s true. A degree in Theatre (and the Fine Arts, in general) provides you with soft skills you can’t buy: creativity, thinking-on-your-feet, and the confidence and ability to make the sometimes seemingly impossible projects possible. Our selling point is our innovation capacity, adaptability, and resourcefulness – something companies in almost every industry admits to needing more of!
In which ways has your education at York, and in Theatre in particular, helped you in work and life?
York provided me with confidence and self-awareness. They seem like they’re inherent traits, but they’re not. The Theatre production practicum area taught me the type of worker I am, how to handle conflict, and how to express abstract ideas succinctly and comprehensibly. If you can’t confidently relay your vision to others, it’s going to be mighty difficult getting projects up and running!