Community arts projects bring joy to 1,500 beneficiaries

Some artwork from the Rainbow in the Dark project by the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) being featured at the tea session on Thursday, May 21, 2015. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Some artwork from the Rainbow in the Dark project by the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) being featured at the tea session on Thursday, May 21, 2015. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A man looking at pieces from the Batik Painting Project, which was organised by the Cerebral Palsy Association Singapore. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A man looking at pieces from the Batik Painting Project, which was organised by the Cerebral Palsy Association Singapore. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Some art pieces from programmes that tapped the WeCare Arts Fund on display at the tea session, jointly organised by the Community Development Councils and National Arts Council, on Thursday, May 21, 2015. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Some art pieces from programmes that tapped the WeCare Arts Fund on display at the tea session, jointly organised by the Community Development Councils and National Arts Council, on Thursday, May 21, 2015. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Since the WeCare Arts Fund was launched in May last year, nearly 1,500 individuals of all ages within the social service sector have benefited from a range of arts programmes. From handicraft projects for the disabled to music lessons for the elderly, 50 programmes have been designed by 50 different voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) to engage the beneficiaries and impact their lives in a meaningful way.

One project by the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped was titled "Rainbow in the Dark", in which visually-impaired members collaborated with art therapist Loh Wan Ting to create tactile art pieces. The artworks were exhibited at *SCAPE in a dark room, and visitors were invited to experience them through their sense of touch alone.

The $1.5 million fund is a joint effort between the National Arts Council (NAC) and the five Community Development Councils (CDCs). VWOs can apply to the CDCs for funding of up to $5,000 per project and up to $10,000 in total per year, which can be used to subsidise artists' fees, materials, and other planning costs.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, chairman of the Mayors' Committee and Mayor of the North West CDC, was the special guest at a tea session organised by the CDCs and NAC on Thursday, which aimed to bring local artists and VWOs together to collaborate on future projects.

Dr Teo said that he was heartened by the positive reception from the beneficiaries and the programmes' success in the short time since the launch of the fund. VWOs reported that the programmes allowed their participants to build friendships and bolstered their confidence and self-esteem.

"For a start, we want to reach out to as many VWOs and beneficiaries as possible," said Dr Teo, commenting on the $5,000 cap.

"As we progress, if there are more advanced arts projects, we can look into (raising the cap)," he added.

The Singapore Children's Society collaborated with artiste-educator Michelle Poh on a vocal ensemble project for youths.

"We tailored the programme to cater to the different ages and interests of the children," said Ms Poh.

"The arts are a good tool for social engagement. Artistic excellence may not necessarily be the sole objective or the end in itself. But if we identify a child with hidden talents, it's rewarding to help stretch them to their fullest potential."