A*Star scientist stops accepting applicants after giving out 'No Star Arts Grant' to 5 recipients

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) scientist Eng Kai Er, 30, who started an arts grant out of her own salary, will stop accepting new applications by Sunday. Since November last year, five projects have received funding under the gr
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) scientist Eng Kai Er, 30, who started an arts grant out of her own salary, will stop accepting new applications by Sunday. Since November last year, five projects have received funding under the grant. -- PHOTO: MARTIN EKLUND 

SINGAPORE - The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) scientist who started an arts grant out of her own salary will stop accepting new applications by Sunday.

Dr Eng Kai Er, 30, wrote in her blog three weeks ago that she has received a large number of good proposals, and is closing applications so that she does not have to reject more of them.

The scientist had started the "No Star Arts Grant" last October to protest against her bond to a job she said she is not interested in. She is serving a six-year bond with A*Star for two scholarships she had taken to study at Britain's Cambridge University and Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute.

Since November last year, five projects have received funding under the arts grant:

November: The grant was awarded to Mr Andrew Chan for his project, The Wedding Banquet. Mr Chan, a single gay man, held a wedding for himself and his yet-to-be-found future partner on Dec 20 last year - his 40th birthday.

December: Dancer-choreographer Wiing Liu successfully applied for the grant to pay the dance performance, Flight Of The Kaleidoscopic Mind II. The $1,000 was used to pay the dancers involved in the performance, who had been unpaid for both rehearsals and performances since August last year.

Dr Eng said in her blog: "I wanted to give Wiing and the dancers a boost to their confidence - even if it's only $1,000 divided amongst eight people. It's definitely not enough for the amount of work they've put in, but it's better than nothing."

January: Dr Eng gave out two grants of $1,000 each instead of one. The two projects were featured in the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival last month.

Performance artist Loo Zihan received the grant for his project With/Out, a multimedia tribute to the late Paddy Chew, the first Singaporean to publicly announced his HIV-positive status.

The grant was also awarded to playwright Joel Tan for his piece, Mosaic, which examines millennial living and the loss of physical heritage in Singapore.

Both productions were sold out at the festival.

February: The grant was given to Christopher Khor and his team, who are currently working on a documentary about transgender men in Singapore titled Some Reassembly Required. The documentary centres around a group of transgender men, including Khor himself, in various stages of transition. The production team hopes to deliver the film by August next year.

leepearl@sph.com.sg