SINGAPORE - The Government is scaling up its efforts to engage the young in Singapore.
This year, the annual Shine Festival held by the National Youth Council (NYC) has grown into the inaugural YouthX event, one of the largest youth-centric events in recent years.
It takes place over Aug 4 and 5 and is the umbrella event for three anchor festivals: Shine Festival which showcases youth art and music; GetActive! Singapore, a series of sports festivals, ground-up sports initiatives and competitions; and Hyperplay, an eSports tournament and music festival.
Some 80,000 people are expected to turn up over the weekend at the Singapore Sports Hub for the event, which includes a Festival Village with food, drinks and games.
International celebrities such as Korean singer CL, American singer Nick Jonas and Thai rock band Slot Machine will be performing, together with local artists such as The Sam Willows and Charlie Lim.
Mr David Chua, chief executive of the NYC, said: "It is definitely the largest youth-centric festival in recent years, in terms of the range of activities provided and the outreach as well."
He added that this event brings together sporting youth with eSports gamers and artists, appealing to a wider variety of people with diverse interests.
"It becomes a more vibrant and exciting experience when it is all blended together," he said.
Mr Chua also said that the Government is increasingly trying to reach out to young people and understand them.
"The young are more interested in national issues and they are participating. We want to go to them to find common ground and build trust between the segments of our population."
It is also the first time that Singapore is holding an Asean integrated eSports tournament and music festival called Hyperplay.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who launched Hyperplay, said: "We are the Asean chairman this year and it is wonderful we are hosting the first Asean eSports (event)...because it brings together young people throughout Asean.
"By 2020, half of the population of Asean will be 30 years and under. So it's important that our young people feel a sense of identity for Asean and come together."
Like previous Shine Festivals, music mentees of the Shine x *Scape Talent Development Programme will also be performing this year.
One of these mentees is rapper Fariz Jabba, 22. He started writing song lyrics since he was 12, but only just started getting into rap full-time. Mr Jabba will be performing his debut single during the festival. It took a few months to prepare for this performance, which included doing dance steps in front of the mirror at home.
"I'm trying to suppress my excitement, but inside I'm really imploding," he said.
Dr Lim Wee Kiak, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Community and Youth, said: "Through our work in the arts and sports sectors, and our continued investment in our youth, we hope to build a confident youth population that will take Singapore forward. We also hope to work with them to build a home youths are anchored to, care for and feel proud of."
National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Tan Ern Ser also said that young people are "clearly on the radar screen" of the Government.
"Various government agencies and grassroots and community organisations prioritise engaging, involving, and supporting youth in achieving their aspirations and their desire to reach out to others in the community," he added.
"It is important to hear them out and motivate them to step up, rather than feel alienated, being critical on the side line, and letting their ideas go to waste."
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said these events can also inspire creativity among the young and give them the opportunity to develop in these areas.
She launched the Shine Festival segment with a rallying cry for young people to step up and discover their talents.
"Youth of Singapore, you are our future," she said to cheers from the crowd. "Pursue your passions, push those boundaries and we will do what we can to support you, to let you realise your dreams and let you shine."