Arts school must continue to pursue artistic excellence

My son was in the pioneer batch of School of the Arts (Sota) students.

When we enrolled him in the school, we wanted him to go as far as his talents and interests would take him.

We wanted him to succeed in an arts career so that he could contribute to the future of the Singapore arts scene.

The pioneer batch of students had the drive, passion and commitment to pursue their art.

Many of them managed to sustain this passion despite the tough challenge of balancing artistic pursuits and academic studies.

My son, who took up acting and drama at Sota, was so self-motivated and committed to his art that he spent countless hours in school rehearsing and producing.

Yet, he managed to get good grades in the International Baccalaureate and is now pursuing a degree in theatre practice at a top theatre school in London.

He remains as motivated as ever, not only doing well in his studies but also pursuing projects and performances outside of his studies.

How did this come about?

It came from Sota having had a founding principal, Ms Rebecca Chew, who strongly believed that there is room for a community of artists who can bring to their art the required commitment to excel.

I believe that it is the school's subsequent change in direction, with a strong focus on academic studies, that is causing such a high percentage of its students to stop pursuing their interest in the arts (Value of Sota education goes beyond the arts, by Ms Patricia Chen Meng Hui; May 29).

What Ms Chen is suggesting may be achieved through studies in the liberal arts.

An arts school should not be compromised by "selling out".

It should return to its roots and remain focused on its pursuit of artistic excellence.

Charles Tee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Arts school must continue to pursue artistic excellence'. Print Edition | Subscribe