Budding artists with special needs can enrol in certificate course in visual arts

Mr Cavan Chang and his mother, Madam Cecilia Lai, with his pieces at the exhibition.
Mr Cavan Chang and his mother, Madam Cecilia Lai, with his pieces at the exhibition.PHOTO: HOSANNA CHANDRASEKRAN
Fish School Swimming Under The Sea by Mr Aaron James Yap.
Fish School Swimming Under The Sea by Mr Aaron James Yap.PHOTO: VERY SPECIAL ARTS SINGAPORE
Flamingo's Frisbee In The Pond Lake by Mr Aaron James Yap.
Flamingo's Frisbee In The Pond Lake by Mr Aaron James Yap.PHOTO: VERY SPECIAL ARTS SINGAPORE
Pasar Malam (Night Market) by Mr Cavan Chang.
Pasar Malam (Night Market) by Mr Cavan Chang.PHOTO: VERY SPECIAL ARTS SINGAPORE
Village Radiance by Mr Cavan Chang.
Village Radiance by Mr Cavan Chang.PHOTO: VERY SPECIAL ARTS SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Aspiring artists 18 and above with special needs can now enrol in a programme launched by arts school Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) and charity Very Special Arts Singapore (VSA) on Thursday (June 14). The programme will give a boost to those hoping to forge a career in the arts.

The certificate in visual arts, issued by Nafa's Centre for Lifelong Education, is open to artists who have at least four years of visual arts training at VSA. Applications are subject to a selection process.

Mr Cavan Chang, 30, who has Down syndrome, is keen to sign up.

"I want to join so I can be a better visual artist," said Mr Chang, who enjoys creating abstract art with acrylic paint.

His mother Cecilia Lai, 60, a retiree who worked in the banking industry, said the programme might be challenging for Mr Chang if it is too theoretical, but she believes it will be very beneficial if he gets to hone his painting technique.

Mr Aaron James Yap, 22, who has autism, is another budding artist interested in the course.

"It will be a stepping stone for him in his art education," said his mother, Mrs Diana Yap, 52, a housewife. "A certificate plays an important role for an artist."


Mr Aaron James Yap and his mother, Mrs Diana Yap, with his pieces at the exhibition. PHOTO: HOSANNA CHANDRASEKRAN

The five-month programme, to be held at VSA (Bedok Centre), will help participants sharpen their conceptualisation and time management, and they will be assessed on two projects. Set to begin this October, each edition of the programme will train between six and eight students.

"The programme offers artists with special needs an opportunity to improve their career prospects and show that despite their special needs, they can produce quality, conceptual works within a given timeline," said Ms Maureen Goh, the executive director of VSA, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Set up by Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large, VSA aims to give people with disabilities opportunities through the arts.

Ms Linda de Mello, who is director (sector development, visual arts) at the National Arts Council and guest of honour at the launch, said: "Over the years, we have witnessed an encouraging shift in the arts scene towards embracing diversity among us. It is heartening to see our arts institution foster greater inclusivity through this programme."

The signing ceremony took place together with the launch of VSA's annual visual art exhibition by artists with special needs.

The exhibition, Rhythm And Water, held at The Art House, Gallery 2, is open to the public and will run until Tuesday (June 19).