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Community Engagement

‘How do the Arts Engage and Build Communities?’ (2019)

Principal Investigator: 3 Pumpkins Ltd (Lin Shiyun)

This report evaluates the effectiveness of art programmes, focusing on how factors that posed challenges in organising and executing the programmes can affect it. Descriptions by volunteers and programme materials from the year long 3P-HYC partnership, Let’s Go Play OutSide! (LGPO!) and The Rubbish Prince were used to gain qualitative insights about the impacts on the level of engagement for these art programmes, showcasing the takeaways by 3Pumpkins and surfacing potential areas for further research and improvement in organizing similar programmes in future.


A Decade of Theatre For Seniors: A Journey of Aesthetics and Innovation in Later Life (2019)


Principal Investigator: Community Cultural Development (Felicia Low) in collaboration with The Necessary Stage

The project recognizes the benefits of engaging in art activities for personal development in one’s later years to widen and deepen an individual’s life experiences to encourage growth and a deepening sense of life’s meaning. The study examines the extent to which the practice of theatre can impact life’s meaning, values and life’s satisfaction in later life by using a person-centred framework (Low, 2019) comprising personal, social, cognitive and cultural dimensions to map out stages of being and growth. The research has surfaced key findings such as the long-term interest in the arts by seniors and the importance of shifting perceptions of rejections and judgement, which indicates a need for greater understanding into art programmes for seniors with longer term affiliation and commitment to build a stronger sense of self, belonging and community.


2.0 ARTISAN: Deconstructing the Integrative Efficacy of a Multimodal Art-based Intervention to Strengthen Understanding and Demystify Misconceptions on Arts, Heritage, and Health (2019)


Principal Investigator: Dr Andy Ho


Following Project ARTISAN, developed in 2018 to address the problem of loneliness via the arts and heritage, ARTISAN 2.0 builds on the empirical foundation of the pilot study and deconstructs the ARTISAN intervention to investigate the underlying mechanisms for promoting positive life changes among youth and senior participants living in multiple communities in Singapore. Participants were engaged in a 5-week randomized controlled trial (RCT) condition with a follow-up assessment at 10 weeks. The study’s core objective is to assess the independent and combined efficacy of each key intervention component of ARTISAN’s multimodal framework which consist of: 1) full ARTISAN condition; 2) intergenerational participatory arts condition; 3) intergenerational art space condition; 4) intergenerational storytelling condition; and 5) control condition of physical activity.


Findings through this study enhanced development and refinement of the ARTISAN framework for online and in-person platforms for societal-wide dissemination. It also adds to the limited knowledge on how integrative modalities of arts and heritage programming can support and improve individual, community, and population wellbeing, while combating age stereotypes in society.


Revealing the Psychological and Behavioural Effects of Public Art Using Virtual Reality (2019)


Principal Investigator: Dr Qiu Lin


This study recognises the various benefits of public sculptures in urban landscapes such as enhancing the aesthetic quality of a space, enriching the economic sphere of a space, promoting social and community interactions, and creating cultural and symbolic values. To examine the psychological effects of public sculptures, primarily on stress and patience, the study utilises virtual reality (VR) as it provides a more immersive experience that parallels real life and enables full control of the internal environment. Given that earlier studies have found that art museums can be as restorative as natural environments, this study also aims to examine whether public art could improve the restorativeness of urban settings, as well as individuals’ moods.

The Impact of Arts-based Programmes on Persons Living with Dementia, their Family Caregivers and Societal Attitudes (2019)

Principal Investigators: Dr Donald Yeo and Mrs Theresa Lee

Co-Investigators: Ms Koh Hwan Jing and Ms Wong Sze Chi

This report evaluates the impact of the Arts and Dementia programme offered by the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, demonstrating positive effects of the programme on persons living with dementia, their caregivers and societal attitudes towards dementia. Quantitative and qualitative data was gathered from May 2018 and June 2019 to evaluate six arts-based programmes: Let’s Explore Peranakan Museum, A Walk through Kampong Gelam, Mould Your Dream, Take a Photo with Me, Sing Out Loud!, and the Memories Café. To gather more in-depth information, four focus group discussions were conducted with caregivers and volunteers involved in the programme.

Project ARTISAN: Aspiration and Resilience Through Intergenerational Storytelling and Art-based Narratives (2019)

Principal Investigator: Dr Andy Ho

Loneliness is a major public health concern around the world, prevalent in both young and old. Created through a Participatory Action Research approach, ARTISAN is a 5-week, 15-hour group-based intervention that focuses on resilience building and loneliness alleviation through a structured holistic multimodalframework that integrates storytelling, art-making and heritage appreciation with museum spaces.

A waitlist randomized control trial was conducted to assess ARTISAN’s efficacy. 34 youth and senior dyads (N=68) were randomly paired and assigned to an intervention group or waitlist-control group. Outcome measures included self-reported loneliness, resilience, national identity, quality-of-life, life satisfaction, and social support.

Findings from linear mixed effect models revealed that ARTISAN significantly improved life satisfaction (95%CI: 0.91 to 0.85, p<0.0015, d=0.68), quality-of-life (95%CI: 0.16 to 0.52, p<0.001, d=1.27), national identity (95%CI: 0.18 to 0.80, p=0.002, d=0.43) and national heritage (95%CI: 0.19 to 1.47, p=0.002, d=0.83) among intervention group youths compared to waitlist-control. These outcomes were maintained at five-week post-intervention, with additional significant reduction in loneliness (95%CI: -0.34 to -0.05, p=0.01, d=0.48) and enhanced perceived emotional support (95%CI: 0.1 to 0.59, p=0.005, d=0.57). Similar findings were observed among intervention group seniors with additional significant increase in resilience (95%CI: 0.19 to 1.04, p=0.005, d=0.78) at five-week post-intervention. 

This original and pioneering study fills a critical gap in knowledge and practice between the arts, heritage and holistic wellness, paving the way for further research to enhance societal wellbeing, social cohesion, and citizen empowerment.

Person-Centered Arts Practices with Communities: A Pedagogical Guide (2018)

Principal Investigator: Dr Felicia Low

This pedagogical guide outlines the principles of a four-dimension assessment framework developed as a self-evaluation tool for artists working with communities, as well as how this framework can be applied in curriculum development.

The four dimensions of the framework comprise the social dimension (e.g. empathy and communication), the personal dimension (e.g. self-identity and self-realisation), the cognitive dimension (e.g. effective thinking) and the cultural dimension (e.g. language, aesthetics), all of which are inter-related.

Inside Out – The role of drama in enabling a positive sense of self efficacy in children (2018)

Principal Investigator: Dr Jennifer Wong

Inside Out was a qualitative research study that examined the role of improvisatory and collaborative playbuilding processes in enabling positive self-efficacy in children from low-income families in Singapore. Using a multiple-case-study-with-reflective-practice approach, this project investigated playbuilding as a conduit for the children to re-imagine and re-visualise their identities and agency as residents in highly subsidised government-owned one-room rental apartments in the island state. The shifts experienced in the children’s sense of identity and agency resulted in change in the children’s individual and collective efficacy during the playbuilding project. This report discusses the findings of using playbuilding as a tool with children and youth through mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, physiological states and ‘imaginal’ experiences.

Rhythm-centred Music Making in Community Living Elderly: A pilot study (Duke-NUS) (2017)

Principal Investigator: Dr Ang Seng Bin

Co-investigator: Ms Angela Frances Yap

Co-Mentor: Dr Chay Oh Moh

With people living longer than before, quality of life, personal development and purposeful activity, have become important aspects in the measurement of the health of an individual and has been recognized as an important health outcome. Rhythm-centred music making, defined as the playing of drums and various other percussion instruments, has been found to have benefits in areas of emotional, psychological and social outcomes with improvements in mood, reduction in anxiety, stress relief and relaxation. This pilot study explores the effects of rhythm-centred music making on quality of life, depressive mood, sleep quality and social isolation in the elderly.

A pilot intervention programme, comprising ten weekly facilitated rhythm-centred music making sessions, was conducted via a randomised controlled trial. Participants’ outcomes were measured against European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions, Geriatrics Depression Scale, Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and the Lubben Social Network Scale. The results showed that rhythm-centred music making has possible effects on addressing depressive symptoms, sleep quality and social isolation on community-living elderly.

The Arts for Ageing Well: A Landscape Study on Art Participation and Holistic Wellbeing among current and Future Older Generations of Singapore (2017)

Principal Investigator: Dr Andy Hau Yan Ho

Co-investigators: Dr Ho Moon-Ho Ringo, Dr Joyce Pang Shu Min & Dr Emily Ortega

The arts can play a vital role in the promotion of healthy ageing via cultivating personal autonomy, social participation and community involvement. At the same time, the agents of creativity, imagination, emotional and relational aesthetics can help build individual resilience, aid recovery to illness, as well as nurture a compassionate society for an ageing population. This empirical study examines arts engagement as well as its effects on holistic wellbeing among current and future cohorts of seniors in Asia. It is the first-ever attempt to critically address an important knowledge gap by utilizing a holistic, quantitative and qualitative investigative approach to understand the notion of ‘Arts for Ageing Well’. A cross-sectional stratified random household survey was conducted with senior arts and non-arts audiences aged 50 and above, as well as a series of qualitative focus groups, to strengthen the case for the arts as a platform to promote quality of life and as a non-medical/pharmaceutical agent for mental health enhancement. In addition, the arts may be considered as a gateway to stronger support networks as well as a remedy to reduce social isolation.

Both Sides, Now: Living With Dying (2016)

Principal Investigator: Dr Prudence Wales

Co-Investigator: Dr Charlene Rajendran

This qualitative study of Both Sides, Now –  a community arts project that presented inter-disciplinary interactive installations and performances with a range of critical dialogues related to issues of death and dying – investigates its impact on audiences, artists, stakeholders and volunteers who attended or were involved in its development. Specifically, it sought to examine how audiences, artists, stakeholders and volunteers involved in bringing the project together, perceived and responded to the event. Integral to the success of this project were the safe space created, leadership and collaboration, choice of venue, audience diversity and post-project follow up.

Breaking Ground: The Impact of the Arts Housing Policy on Arts Development in Singapore 1985 – 2015 (2016)

Institute of Policy Studies

In 1985, the Arts Housing Scheme (AHS) was formally introduced as a policy to allocate subsidised work spaces to arts practitioners and organisations in Singapore. Despite its relatively long existence, there has yet to be a comprehensive and grounded study on the impact of the arts housing policy on the arts ecology in Singapore. This report is a critical consideration of the capacity of the Arts Housing Policy to support arts development and practice in Singapore. Through ethnographic and textual material, this report examines the policy, as well as the challenges and possibilities that arts housing spaces hold in serving the needs of arts practitioners and organisations in Singapore.

The report contends that the Arts Housing Policy is a relevant artist assistance policy scheme that has yielded positive benefits for arts practitioners and organisations. In particular, the significant rental subsidy enabled by the Policy enhances the capacity of the tenants to practice and develop their art without worrying about paying rents at market rates. However, there is less evidence on broader spillovers and “second tier” benefits such as shared synergies with the surrounding neighbourhoods. Although the policy may have limitations, no critique of the Arts Housing Policy can diminish the value it has brought to arts development and practice in Singapore; its vital importance to the survival of many arts practitioners and organisations is widely acknowledged.

Compassionate Mobilities (2014)

Principal Investigator: Dr Adelina Ong

Compassionate mobilities is a theory of negotiated living that draws metaphors from urban practices like parkour, art du déplacement, breakin’ and graffiti for more compassionate ways of being together, in a shared place. This has grown more urgent with an increasing number of youth suicides and self-harm in recent years reportedly attributed to academic stress.

Parkour, art du déplacement, breakin’ and graffiti were used in combination with place practices, an applied performance practice, at workshops conducted with young people aged 15-25 in London and Singapore to explore more compassionate ways of negotiating conflicting aspirational mobilities related to the imagination of a future place These workshops tested theoretical ideas and experimented with how these urban art-inspired place practices could open up opportunities to initiate reciprocal relationships of acceptance and care. This study establishes the theoretical and contextual basis for compassionate mobilities and proposes ideas for the negotiation of place using urban art-inspired place practices to initiate compassionate relationships and alternative imaginations of the city that are not constrained by fear and loss.