SINGAPORE - The School of the Arts (Sota), which marks its 10th anniversary this year, wants to give children, especially those from low-income families, a chance to attend dance and art lessons outside school.
The Arts Development Award for Primary 4 to Primary 6 pupils who show talent in the arts is the school's latest initiative, alongside a buddy programme, to ramp up efforts to help families with a gross household income of $8,000 or less, or per capita income of $2,000 or less.
Last year, 23 out of 52 nominated pupils received the award - funded by philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation Nurtures - in a pilot run.
The $2,000-a-year award aims to create opportunities for pupils who have an interest or potential in dance or visual arts to be exposed to arts education from a young age. It can cover course fees, materials, costumes and transport costs.
Recipients of the award are also mentored by current Sota students.
Separately, more parents have sent their children for external programmes to not just hone their craft but get into secondary schools using their artistic and sporting talents.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, launched the award on Monday (July 30) at Sota's annual awards ceremony.
It follows a review carried out with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and National Arts Council that broadly outlines the need for Sota to make arts education more accessible to youths, regardless of their background.
Ms Fu said that Sota will work with the Ministry of Education to introduce arts enrichment programmes for pupils who show raw talent.
It comes on top of Sota's outreach to primary schools to raise awareness of the school and its Direct School Admission (DSA) process.
Sota receives up to 1,000 applications every year, and admits about 200 in each intake. All are admitted through DSA, which can guarantee pupils with talent in the arts a place in the school even before the Primary School Leaving Examination.
Sota has also increased financial support for needy students to cover more items like transport fees, meals, school uniforms, textbooks and art materials.
Sota will also work more closely with organisations across three main groups: Children with special needs, children from disadvantaged families and the elderly.
This is part of ensuring that Sota students can "learn from others with different experiences and perspectives" in the wider community, said Ms Fu.