18 March 2019

The Arts for Good Fellowship Wraps Up in Chennai with Fellows Striving to Empower Youth Through the Arts

The second edition of SIF’s Arts for Good (A4G) Fellowship saw Fellows from 10 countries reconvene to share best practices, exchange insights and collaborate on several arts-based projects.

The second edition of the Arts for Good Fellowship
The second edition of the Arts for Good Fellowship concluded with an exchange programme in Chennai, India after a series of online webinars and an exchange programme in Singapore.

The Chennai Exchange Programme, held between 19 to 22 February 2019, was the final component of the A4G Fellowship which had included online webinars and a four-day Singapore Exchange Programme held from 19 to 22 November last year.

In Chennai, 30 Fellows participated in experiential learning journeys, dialogues and workshops – some of which were driven by alumni and current Fellows. This included a workshop on design thinking and innovation by alumni Fellow, Sriram Ayer, Founder of Nalandaway Foundation and a session on understanding individual practices and motivations led by current Fellow Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Director of Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University.

The SIF also collaborated closely with strong partners in the arts and cultural landscape in India to further bolster the Fellowship experience. This included a heritage tour with DakshinaChitra, an open-air museum dedicated to South Indian heritage and culture, an expressive arts therapy workshop with East-West Center for Counselling and Training, and a life skills assessment session with Dream a Dream, a charity which empowers underprivileged children and youth.

Arts for Good Fellows Jigyasa Labroo
(From left) Arts for Good Fellows Jigyasa Labroo, Stephanie Turner and Kamya Ramachandran teamed up to collaborate with 100 high school students on a community mural.

In addition to soaking up knowledge, the Fellows also got hands-on opportunities to collaborate on arts-based projects in India. This included a community mural art project championed by Indian Fellows Jigyasa Labroo, Founder and CEO, Slam Out Loud, Kamya Ramachandran, Director, Jaaga DNA, and UK Fellow Stephanie Turner, Artistic and Creative Facilitator, Partners for Youth Empowerment Global. The trio came together to conduct arts-based workshops and co-create a mural with about 100 high school students. The vividly colored mural portrayed the children’s dreams, hope, faith and creativity and was completed in two days.

“I'm proud of the collaborations that have come about, the ones that are going to come, and grateful for some deep relationships whose seeds we've planted. The Arts for Good Fellowship held space for all of us to walk in with our gifts, our dreams and trepidation, our hopes and fears,” said Jigyasa Labroo, Founder and CEO, Slam Out Loud, which helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds express themselves creatively through the arts.

Another partnership saw Singaporean Fellow Muhammad Noramin Bin Mohamad Farid, Joint Artistic Director of the Bhumi Collective, team up with Manjula Ponnapalli, a music educator from NalandaWay Foundation. The pair taught high school students traditional Malay dance movements which was paired with Indian folk songs. Other A4G Fellows also participated wholeheartedly in both projects as well.

The Fellowship’s ability to connect different stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and correspondingly, create opportunities for collaboration is something Brydie-Leigh Bartleet values. She added: “This Fellowship provides those working in the Arts for Good field with a once in a lifetime opportunity! It provides an outstanding opportunity to connect with the world's leading practitioners in this field, to experience inspiring programs in different countries and to learn about how the Arts for Good ecosystem is growing and flourishing throughout the world. Fellows walk away with a renewed sense of purpose, a toolbox of new ideas and approaches, and an excellent international network of potential collaborators.”

High school students and Fellows enthusiastically interacted through singing Tamil folk songs infused with basic shapes
High school students and Fellows enthusiastically interacted through singing Tamil folk songs infused with basic shapes created by Malay dance movements during the cross-cultural collaboration between Singaporean Fellow, Muhammad Noramin (centre) and Manjula Ponnapalli, Music Education Consultant from NalandaWay Foundation

Another highlight of the Fellowship experience was the Arts for Good Forum, co-organised by SIF and NalandaWay Foundation, in association with Stella Maris College. The public forum drew an audience of about 100 and saw the vibrant exchange of ideas in creating positive social change across diverse communities.

During the forum’s ‘Empowering Youth through the Arts’ panel discussion moderated by Sriram Ayer, panelists like Archana Ramachandran, City Director, Chennai, Teach for India; Dushyanth Gunashekar, Creative Curator-Entrepreneur, Crea-Shakthi; Revanna Marilinga, Manager, After School Life Skill Programme, Dream a Dream; and Tenma, Music Director and Co-Founder, The Casteless Collective, discussed how they respectively incorporated different art forms into their work to empower youth. In addition to the panel, there were also five breakout sessions conducted by the Fellows.

The power of networks is critical in sustaining individual efforts, noted Thai Fellow and movement artist Mimie Vararom Tavivoradilok. “The Arts for Good Fellowship is a superb platform to connect people from around the world... Some of us struggle or may even give up along the way because we feel there is no support or funding. So, having an Arts for Good ecosystem globally can help a lot in connecting these small scattered dots and making the whole picture seen. This is what the world needs.”

Applications for the third edition of the A4G Fellowship will start soon from April 2019. Get involved and be a part of a growing international community of practitioners using the arts to positively impact communities! Get your updates on the upcoming Fellowship on our Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the Arts for Good Fellowship Fellows here and our programme here!