National Arts Council (NAC), Ministry of Community Development Youth & Sports (MCYS) and National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation (NYGR) jointly organised an inaugural Youth Arts Symposium on 11 and 12 July 2012 at LASALLE College of the Arts, which saw participation by some 250 artists, educators and youth workers.
This was the first symposium to bring together both the arts and youth sector to discuss the role of the arts in engaging and transforming the lives of youths, especially those at-risk. The theme, “YArts: Excite, Engage & Empower”, has a pun on “Youth Arts” and the question “Why Arts?”, which the Symposium hopes to address through the sharing by various speakers on the power of the arts and the possibilities that using the arts to engage at-risk youth can bring.
Speakers at the symposium included Artswork, UK’s national youth arts development agency, Bridging Education and Art Together (B.E.A.T.), a non-profit arts organisation in New York City reaching out to urban youth in under-served areas, visual artist Felicia Low (Community Cultural Development), Kenny Low (CEO, O School), theatre practitioner Koh Hui Ling (Drama Box), as well as youth organisations Students Care Service and Trybe/Singapore Boys’ Hostel. The speakers shared about successes, challenges and learning points from their vast experience in engaging at-risk youths with the arts. Click on YArts Speaker Profiles for the full bios.
Session overview and selected presentations can also be downloaded from the links below:
The featured programmes include some of our pilot artist-led programmes for at-risk youths. If you’re an artist or a Voluntary Welfare Organisation interested in arts for at-risk youths, please contact Chua_Jia_Lin@nac.gov.sg to explore opportunities or collaborations.
1) Visual Arts Programme
Partner: Children-At-Risk-Empowerment Association (CARE)
Participants were led by artist Foo Kwee Horng in a six-session visual arts programme. The youths first identified character traits of influential people from various disciplines (eg. entertainment, sports, arts) and were guided to draw associations of the positive character traits with themselves through painting self‐portraits. The youths were exposed to elements and principles of art, techniques of art making and different art styles in the process. Participants worked together on a ‘character wall’ mural at the end of the programme. Through the programme, it was observed that the youths appreciated that commitment was needed in completing their artwork, picked up problem solving in artwork creation and learnt to work in a team.
2) Percussion, Graffiti Art & Breakdance Programme
Partner: Trybe (Singapore Boys Hostel)
Through this 8 session programme, residents of different races in the Singapore Boys Hostel learnt to put aside their differences and prejudices to work together for a showcase. One of the boys created a name for the programme called S.T.A.R (Standing Together Achieving Results) and this helped motivate the rest of the members in the group to embrace and take ownership of the programme.
The atmosphere for team work and unity grew stronger during each workshop, bringing a sense of purpose and accomplishment to every boy involved the programme. Youth workers remarked that there has been an improvement in the relationships between the boys as they saw a different side of one another when they were united by a common interest during the workshops. At the night of the performance, the boys stood proud as they showcased their talents before their family members. Parents were also amazed and realised their sons’ potential and that they could achieve anything when they believed and put their mind into it.