Minister shows he can jam with the boys too

The guest of honour usually arrives, takes his seat and settles in to watch the show. But not Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.

He picked up an electric guitar and took to the stage at last night's ChildAid concert at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre.

He joined a group of five boys to perform a medley of three pop songs, Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5, Superstition by Stevie Wonder and Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music, to the delight and cheers of the 2,000-strong audience and young performers.

Despite some technical glitches along the way, he gamely kept up with the performance, earning applause at the end.

Speaking to reporters before the concert, Mr Wong said he was encouraged to see that this year's performers came from a broad spectrum, including those from mainstream schools and The Little Arts Academy, funded by The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.

"It shows how important good arts education can be, especially at an early age," he said.

His ministry is planning to work with the Ministry of Education to enhance arts education in schools. "We want to reach out to all the other students as well, not just those who already have a specialised interest in the arts," he said.

This will be done through the Arts and Culture Education Masterplan, which will pump in $40 million from now to 2016 to support arts education in schools.

Early exposure to the arts, from as young as pre-school age, can help children develop their creativity and imagination, he said.

Mr Wong also said that while mastering the technical aspects of the arts is important, it is more crucial that students understand the spirit of the arts.

"And that means learning to appreciate beauty around you, learning how to express yourself, your emotions, your feelings in a creative, in an imaginative way through the arts," he said.

He urged companies and individuals to give back to society through the arts.

The annual ChildAid charity concert, organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, raised a record sum of more than $2 million. Proceeds go to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.