Young patrons on why they give to the arts

Business owner Ayrin Widjaja: Arts creation needs support

Ms Ayrin Widjaja supports the arts because she believes in the power of theatre to make people think deeper.
Ms Ayrin Widjaja supports the arts because she believes in the power of theatre to make people think deeper.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Business owner Ayrin Widjaja, 39, believes in the power of theatre.

"Art should be thought-provoking - even if that means making you feel uncomfortable sometimes. It shouldn't just be a pretty vase," she says.

She has been supporting the Singapore Repertory Theatre over the years, but declines to reveal the exact amount.

When she returned from New York after completing her fashion design studies, she did not have high hopes for the arts scene in Singapore, but was pleasantly surprised by what she saw.

"Singapore has grown by leaps and bounds. It certainly wasn't as developed when I was growing up here," says Ms Widjaja, a Singapore permanent resident who was born in Indonesia, but has lived here since she was seven.

The first play by the Singapore Repertory Theatre that she caught was Art by French playwright Yasmina Reza, which was staged last year.

She found it to be "really challenging stuff" and was so impressed that it moved her to bid for the artwork featured in the play - a piece of white canvas with faint lines drawn on it - as part of a charity auction. The money went to the theatre's student education fund, which gives children from various charities access to its theatre shows.


"The blank canvas is a metaphor about our perception of the value of art. Art is not 'good' just because an artist spent 200 hours on it, but about the meaning of the work and the feelings it evokes in somebody. That's why I bought it," she says.

She has not yet hung the painting in her home, though she anticipates it will be a conversation-starter with guests.

For Ms Widjaja, it is the process of arts creation that needs support.

Supporting the arts, she adds, is as vital as supporting other charitable causes.

"Creativity is such a delicate quality. You need to keep watering the plant. Once you stop, it withers away and it's hard to get it back," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline 'Doing her bit for arts creation'. Print Edition | Subscribe