The Moneymaker: Beatrice Chia-Richmond

At work, Beatrice Chia-Richmond helms multi-million dollar productions. But at home, she’s in charge of “smaller items”, like her son Sol’s pocket money, which is $2 a day.

Beatrice Chia-Richmond

The Moneymaker
: Beatrice Chia-Richmond, 40. The Running into the Sun #girlboss is also creative director of the 28th SEA Games opening and closing ceremonies.

HER HOME IS: A three-storey semi-detached house in East Coast where she lives with hubby Mark Richmond, 43, Sol, seven, and her parents, both 70, who run a construction and engineering firm together. “I’ve lived here all my life, I’m never moving. I’ve lived in a few places — I was in London for seven years, for instance — and I’ve never slept well anywhere, other than when I’m at home,” she muses.

HER RIDE IS: A one-and-a-half-year-old Volkswagen SUV.

HOW MUCH SHE EARNS: “I’m probably a four out of 10. As an artist, my income [fluctuates] ’cos it’s on a project basis. I’m very bad with money, you know, as most creative people are. I have no [financial] skill to boast of!” she quips.

8 DAYS: How different is it doing the SEA Games opening and closing ceremonies, compared to the National Day Parade?
BEATRICE CHIA-RICHMOND: It’s twice as challenging. I’ve devoted almost two years of my life [to the SEA Games] — planning started in October 2013 — whereas for NDP it was a year-long commitment. This is a show that plays to 11 countries, and will be broadcast to 600 million people. The entire budget for SEA games, sporting events included, is $324.5mil; and the budget for the two shows is $33mil. The bulk of it goes to staging, like the props, costumes, lighting, sound, and extensive aerial system that we’re building in the stadium, which we’ve never had before here. That’s really a complex production, put mildly. As the Games draws closer, everyone’s in a state of panic. My phone is ringing all the time, there is a crisis happening every hour, my chest is tightening. So, life is great! (Laughs)

Mark is deputy director of sports entertainment at Sports Singapore and is also involved in the SEA Games. 
He’s a sports freak and he’s bursting with excitement. For the first time, he can come home and talk about sports to me. (Laughs) Our departments are very different and we’re never in the same meetings. But at the same time, everything he says [about work], I feel it, and vice versa. He’s deeply encouraging when I go through very tough times, and tells me it’s going to be the greatest show, even though he hasn’t seen anything. That kind of blind faith is very important from your husband. (Guffaws)

The SEA Games ceremonies will be held at the National Stadium, which has drawn flak from concert-goers since it opened last June. 
It doesn’t worry me ’cos there are always teething issues when a new venue opens, more so with a huge venue like this. I have full confidence that the company that manages it would have ironed out these issues by the time it comes to the SEA Games.

Things on the Running into the Sun (RITS) front seem to be quieter. You used to organise a few gigs a year.
Most of the RITS team is working on the SEA Games with me. We’ve slowed the business down ’cos of the Games. When that’s over, I’ll probably revisit where I want to take the company.

Will RITS continue down the K-pop route?
I don’t think it’s viable anymore, in all honesty. It was only ever sustainable when the demand for tickets was high. Since the demand has gone down, doing a concert is not viable anymore. A lot of the fever and the rush [we’ve seen in the past few years] was because a lot of the groups had not been to Singapore before. But most groups have come to Singapore a few times already and a lot of the first-time instinct to rush for a ticket has subsided.

Which was the most financially draining K-pop gig?
The most financially viable K-pop gig was Girls’ Generation. Unfortunately, the most un-viable one was probably G-Dragon, when we did it in Malaysia. G-Dragon is fantastic and über talented. It’s just the technical cost of the concert was too high and it didn’t make [financial] sense [for us]. The K-pop wave is totally over, in my opinion. With distance I can look at it with some clarity and say that K-pop became a monster on its own over the years. Everyone thought it’d last at least another three years, but it went up very quickly and came down very quickly. Everyone who got involved in the business was trying to milk it for what it was worth ’cos they knew it was a short-term thing.

When it comes to finances at home, who deals with them?
Both of us. Thankfully, Mark has a stable job, while I earn on a project basis. So I’m in charge of smaller stuff like Sol’s pocket money. He’s in primary two and gets $2 a day — his school [St Stephen’s Primary] recommended that kids don’t carry more money than that. Mark handles big-ticket items like school fees. It’s not so bad now that he’s in primary school. He used to attend an expensive Montessori pre-school and fees were $1,600 a month. Unfortunately, though, Sol has very expensive hobbies. He plays golf and lessons are about $800 a month. But every time you go on the course, it’s $120 per person each time. All in all, that comes up to about $2,000 a month for three of us to go to the course together, which we do every Sunday. But it’s Mark’s dream to play golf with his son, and Sol really enjoys the game.

What’s a money-related lesson that you hope to impart to Sol?
(Guffaws) Wow. I have to think very hard! (Pauses)

Okay, let’s start with what your parents taught you about money when you were growing up.
(Long pause) Oh my goodness, my mind just drew a blank. (Laughs) My parents run an engineering and construction company together — they’re both 70 and are still working. They were very generous with me and didn’t deny me a lot of things. Fortunately for them, I didn’t ask for a lot of things. The general concept was to respect [money], but not to covet it. You should never chase after it, but if you went out to pursue the things you generally enjoy and you’re good at it, then everything else would fall into place, including money.

What’s been your most extravagant purchase?
I’d say holidays. It’s definitely not clothes and bags — I see those as necessities. Because I’m so pressed for time, my shopping has been confined online on websites like Shopbop and Club 21. I like well-made dresses, so I typically spend $400 to 800 for an outfit. I don’t put a cap on how much I spend ’cos I shop out of necessity. When you need three dresses ’cos you need to show up for events, then you need to get three dresses. And ’cos it’s down to the last three days for you to get the outfits, you have no choice but to buy whatever you find on the website. It’s actually very bad — it’s almost like bingeing.

The 28th SEA Games opening ceremony is on June 5, the closing ceremony on June 16, both at the Sports Hub. Tix from tickets.seagames2015.com. Catch them live on okto.

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