In the latest Alumni interview, I caught up with Alicia Liu, to find out, among other things, why she chose CMCI’s MA Cultural and Creative Industries Course, how this course helped to prepare her for her career, and what advice she would give to students currently enrolled on the course.
Alicia Liu is an expert on communications and business development within the cultural sector. She undertook CMCI’s MA Cultural and Creative Industries course between 2005 and 2006, producing a dissertation on culture and arts-led urban regeneration in New York, London and Beijing.
Since completing the MA Alicia has worked for the Major of London’s Strategic Cultural Team, before becoming a senior advisor to several major international cultural productions inclusive of the Hong Kong International Art Fair. Alicia’s extensive network in the media and arts, in both China and Europe, has enabled her to create highly targeted strategic communications and business development programmes for international clients inclusive of Shakespeare’s Globe, White Cube Gallery, Kent & Curwen in partnership with David Beckham OBE, the BBC Studios and the London Book Fair. Alicia’s most recent role is as a Founder and Managing Director of Singing Grass, a business consultancy advising on access and development strategies for the Chinese market. This team of researchers and digital marketing specialists based across Europe and China collectively have two decades of experience in the arts, entertainment, education and luxury retail sectors.
Firstly, why did you choose to study the MA Cultural & Creative Industries course? And why at the CMCI Department at King’s College?
I was looking for a cross disciplinary Master’s programme that would combine my interest in the arts and in marketing and communications. Back in mid-2000 there weren’t many universities that offer such an option. I was very lucky that when I sent an enquiry to King’s, I was answered by Dr Ralph Parfect who was the programme administrator at the time. He patiently took the time to answer all my questions. I was also very touched by the kind of personal approach that seems so rare to see offered by large universities.
Since completing your MA you have had an impressive number of high-profile roles can you tell us more about how the MA Cultural & Creative Industries course helped you prepare for these roles and your future after graduation?
Taking the MA CCI course at King’s has been life changing for me in so many ways. I was exposed to big ideas and philosophical thoughts during the MA programme that has inspired my intellectual curiosity and given me confidence in my critical thinking and analytical skills. Now looking back 15 years on, it also had a profound influence on my personal interest and professional career choices today.
Our classmates from the programme were from a very diverse and international background. From teachers (for example, I was taught by Dr Ruth Adams and Professor Chris Hamnett) to the curriculum design, the MA CCI programme provided a nurturing environment to celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual student. It allowed me to bring a global context to the world of creative content.
The practical internships as part of the MA programme also helped me make industry contacts that really set the foundation of my career. I was very fortunate that I first took an internship with Bridgeman Art Library in New York to develop my interests in the arts, and then followed by another work placement with London based public relations agency Freud Communications to work on an international campaign for the Mayor of London. This ultimately led to my first job with the Mayor’s cultural strategic team.
If you could give any advice to students currently enrolled on MA Cultural & Creative Industries course, what would it be?
Be open-minded and embrace all kinds of experiences. I think sometimes we need structure in life, but we also need to be free flowing in order to release our full creativity. The MA Cultural & Creative Industries offer a cross-disciplinary knowledge and experience that enables us to be lifelong learners. The alumni network and industry mentor contacts are equally invaluable and make this programme a very unique experience.
Name something exciting that you are currently working on, and that has been informed by your degree studies.
At Singing Grass I’m currently working with one of the world’s most powerful children’s brands to look at how to bring an immersive ‘edutainment’ experience through the art of storytelling. By collaborating with Chinese content creators I hope to create something inspired by Chinese legends, but has a global outlook and aims to inspire the next generation. As the world becomes increasingly polarised, I think it is important to turn to the art of storytelling in the creative industries for wisdom, connectivity, and much-needed empathy.
I’ve undertaken some challenging work to build understanding between China and the rest of the world here at Singing Grass. It’s a seed planted through my MA CCI degree studies and still has a profound impact on my current practice.