Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).

Dance Family Music Theatre

Backstage Pass: Producer

What does a producer do at a performing arts centre?


Published: 2 Sep 2022

Time taken : ~10mins

For every arts production that you see, there’s a producer involved. And just what does a producer do? Read on! 

This is Nura. She’s a producer!

Nura works as a producer for both live concerts and television programmes. Today, we get a glimpse into Nura’s role as a producer for a concert. In 2022, Nura worked on FENOMENA, a concert featuring Singapore Malay music icons Jatt Ali, Hady Mirza and Sufi Rashid that was presented at Esplanade’s Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts in 2022. 

This is Nura with her boss, the executive producer. It’s Najip Ali, a Singapore pop icon!

For FENOMENA, Nura worked closely with the executive producer, and together they worked with Esplanade who supported the production financially. The executive producer also has a creative vision for the production—he comes up with an idea of how the show will be—and it’s Nura’s job to make sure that this creative vision comes to life. 

Here’s Farah and Bada, Nura’s go-to co-workers.

Oftentimes, a production can be so big that it needs more than one producer to get the job done. And that’s where Farah and Bada come in. 

For FENOMENA, a live concert at Esplanade, she worked with Bada as co-producers. Farah usually works with Nura as a co-producer, but for this show Farah is an assistant producer. Farah managed the teleprompter and helped artists with lyrics and other important information. 

Together with Bada, Nura had to work with the budget—a set amount of money—that the executive producer obtained for the concert and get the right artists and crew hired. They also have to work against a production timeline that helps them to see what needs to be done and when. Basically, Nura (and Bada) has to make sure that everything to do with the concert goes smoothly!

This is what Nura does during rehearsals.

A producer's job can be fun too as you can see from this lively rehearsal at Esplanade with Singapore Malay music icons Jatt Ali, Sufi Rashid and Hady Mirza having a bit of fun while practicing. Nura also has a cool view when it comes to full band rehearsals at the Esplanade Concert Hall stage!

However, a producer is busiest in the period leading up to the show as a lot of coordination needs to happen. In a large production like FENOMENA, this means handling the needs of many artists and crew members. 

Some of these include making sure different venues are available and booked for rehearsals and set-up, renting all the musical instruments for the show and making sure everyone is paid correctly for the amount of time they work on the show. Nura even has to make sure that the songs being performed have suitable musical arrangements and are in the right key for everyone involved. 

But most importantly, Nura keeps everyone on the same page so that each member of the production knows what they have to do in order for everything to run smoothly! 

When the show starts, this is what goes on backstage.

With everything in place, it’s time for the concert to begin.

As the show runs, Nura and her co-producer Bada keep a watchful eye on the proceedings to make sure everything runs smoothly. They can also view the stage manager’s monitor, which allows all crew members backstage to see the concert from the audience’s point of view. In the midst of the well-oiled operation, they also find the time to enjoy the show! 

Nura answers some questions and tells us more about her job as a producer

Q: What skills do you need to be a producer? 

Nura: You need to be very resourceful. As a producer, you’re the person who’s in charge of the whole project and if there’s a problem that comes up, you need to be quick in finding a solution to ensure that things go as planned. This also means that you need to have a good network of contacts to source for help and resources! You also have to be able to use your initiative and make things happen. I like going the extra mile to make things easier for my artists and team members this way. 

Needless to say, leadership skills are essential as well. My philosophy as a leader is to find solutions together with my team and not in finding fault and laying blame. My team knows that I will always have their back. 


Q: What do I need to study to be a producer? 

Nura: I wanted to do a Mass Communications diploma in polytechnic but my O-level results didn’t make the cut, so I obtained a diploma in Mass Communications from the Management Development Institute of Singapore. I did well and received a grant from the Singapore Indian Development Association and completed my advanced diploma in Mass Communications! 

It was my dream to work with Najip Ali as I grew up watching his variety programme Kopi O Teh Tarik, so after I graduated, I emailed his production company Dua M and found a spot as an intern there. And now, I’m a producer at Dua M!


Q: Why do we need producers? 

Nura: We need producers to make things happen! With us around, artists can focus on their creative ideas and leave it to producers to work on how to make these ideas happen. 


Q: What’s your most memorable moment at work as a producer? 

Nura: It would have to be when I worked on Berani Nyanyi?, a singing competition that was televised on Suria from February to March in 2022. It was the last day of the shoot and it was the finals of the competition. Just before the show ended, Najip Ali (who was one of the hosts) actually invited me on stage and acknowledged my hard work and thanked me while everyone in the studio cheered and chanted my name! 

I gave my all for this production and basically went missing from my family and friends for four months. The show received amazing ratings as well and I really felt the satisfaction of working so hard and feeling like it was all worth it. It’s something that I will remember forever and it keeps me going. 


Photos and videos provided and used with permission from Nura Manaf. Follow her on Instagram here.

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