New arts space for people with disabilities to open in Bukit Merah next year

(Clockwise from left) Artist Eugene Soh, performer Claire Teo, Minister Desmond Lee, Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh and artist Stephanie Esther Fam at a ceremony to unveil ART:DIS' new name. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE- A new arts space for people with disabilities is set to open early next year in Bukit Merah.

It will be housed in the building once occupied by the old Bukit Merah branch library.

The centre by ART:DIS, a charitable organisation, will include a black box stage, a digital recording studio and community areas where people can meet to share ideas and exchange knowledge.

The charity announced this on Monday (Dec 13) during a ceremony to unveil its new name - from Very Special Arts Singapore to ART:DIS.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, was the guest of honour at the event, which was held at non-profit organisation The Rice Company's premises at Orchard Central.

In his speech, he acknowledged ART:DIS' role in enabling people with disabilities through the arts and reaffirmed the Government's commitment to building a more caring and inclusive society.

The Bukit Merah centre, ART:DIS' third, enables the charity to expand its reach to other parts of Singapore. The other two venues are located in the east - in Bedok and Changi City Point.

The charity, which aims to create learning and livelihood opportunities in the arts for people with disabilities, offers training in visual arts, performing arts and literary arts. Students pay highly subsidised rates to attend classes.

On Monday, ART:DIS also announced the launch of a training programme for emerging artists seeking to pursue a career in the arts. Under the programme, students will be mentored by experienced artists, get hands-on learning experiences and can attend masterclasses.

In addition, there will be new foundation classes for those without prior arts experience.

Executive director Maureen Goh said the charity plans to include animation and digital art in its visual arts pathway that now covers two-dimensional art, such as paintings, and three-dimensional art, such as sculptures, when the new centre opens.

ART:DIS was set up in 1993 by Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, who became its patron.

Besides arts programmes and training courses, it also organises exhibitions and performances for people with disabilities.

Said Professor Koh after the relaunch event: "The arts are blooming and the support of those with disabilities from the Government, the private sector, and the community is increasing.

"It is really a golden moment when we can bring the two (the arts and people with disabilities) together."

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