Performing arts: Pilot programme for students

The National Arts Council (NAC) will work with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to pilot a performing arts-based learning programme for lower secondary students this year, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced yesterday.

Through attending pre- and post-concert lessons and specially designed concert programmes which complement their music syllabus, "students will learn about concert etiquette and develop a greater appreciation of musical concepts in an orchestral setting", Ms Fu said during the debate on her ministry's budget.

Several MPs spoke about the need to introduce students to Singapore artists. Said Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun: "In schools, you often see replicas of paintings by Van Gogh and Monet. But where are works by Liu Kang, Georgette Chen and Chen Wen Hsi? If our younger generation cannot access narratives of local artists easily, how can they develop pride in our arts?"

As part of the pilot, NAC and MOE will partner the Esplanade, Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Chinese Orchestra, starting in May.

The Esplanade will organise a "turntable-orchestra programme" involving electronic DJ Koflow, the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra and young composer Julian Wong. Both students and teachers will also be given pre- and post-show guides.

The programme "leverages popular culture and electronic music - two aspects which resonate with young people - to introduce students to a diverse range of music expression and styles", said Ms Chua Lik Ling, the Esplanade's head of children and youth.

The new initiative by NAC and MOE builds on the introduction of museum-based learning experiences for Primary 4 pupils last year. For example, pupils from North Spring Primary School visited National Gallery Singapore, where they learnt about pioneer Singapore artists such as Chua Mia Tee.

Ms Fu also elaborated on plans to top up the Cultural Matching Fund by $150 million, which Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget speech.

The fund, set up by the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) in 2013, provides one-to-one matching of private cash donations to eligible arts and heritage groups, to encourage private giving to the cultural sector. Since its implementation, three-quarters of the $200 million fund has been committed to over 80 organisations.

"By topping up the fund, we hope to sustain the momentum of giving to the arts and heritage sector," said Ms Fu. MCCY will be reviewing the scheme this year as part of a regular review of its support for the arts and culture sector, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Performing arts: Pilot programme for students'. Print Edition | Subscribe