33 SIF Arts for Good (A4G) Fellows across 12 nationalities explore how the arts can be harnessed to empower children and youth in our communities.

The third edition of SIF’s Arts for Good (A4G) Fellowship kicked-off in Singapore from 19 to 22 November 2019, with 33 Fellows across 12 nationalities to explore how the arts can be harnessed to empower children and youth in our communities.

33 arts practitioners representing 12 nationalities came together in Singapore for the Arts for Good Fellowship 2019 to explore and collaborate on the theme of Creative Empowerment for Children and Youth.

A palpable buzz was felt on the rooftop of National Gallery Singapore as accents filled the air and gestures punctuated and illustrated a point. The crowd – comprising members of the public as well as the third cohort of the SIF’s Arts for Good (A4G) Fellows – quickly took their seats as the indomitable Jeffrey Tan (A4G Fellow 2018) held court and kicked off a panel discussion around Creative Empowerment through the Arts.

Featuring Caroline Essame, Steve Dixon, Yap Su-Yin and Ye Shufang as part of a wide-ranging representation of a community of practitioners who believe the arts can be harnessed for social impact, the discussion was vibrant and thought-provoking. The 70-strong audience prompted discussion on topics ranging from creating an empowering ecosystem and safe spaces to advocacy; and prompted sharing of experiences from across various countries.

The panel discussion was one of the many components making up the four-day Singapore exchange segment of the third edition of the SIF’s A4G Fellowship from 19 to 22 November 2019. It was designed to be an experiential journey of learning and sharing during the Fellows’ time in Singapore. The exchange focused on peer learning and exemplified the overarching theme of this Fellowship for the year, ‘Creative Empowerment for Children and Youth’.

Specifically, the Fellows picked up key skills and tools which enabled creative facilitation of youth activities and conversations. This was centred around the Creative Empowerment Model by Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE) which combines experiential learning, group facilitation and arts-based practice into a framework for designing and leading transformative programmes for youth and adults.  In a nod to peer-based learning, these sessions were facilitated by an A4G Fellow, Nilisha Mohapatra, who is also a Lead Trainer for PYE. During community building sessions, the Fellows also shared freely best practices and exchanged knowledge to create #artsforgood programmes.

“Arts through Play!” rocket launch activity conducted by Playeum allowed Fellows to experience creative and artful play and discover creative possibilities in designing projects for children. The Executive Director of Playeum Charlotte Goh is also an A4G Fellow (2018).

These skillsets would be put to good use across the next stages of the Fellowship, when the participants reconvene for a webinar in January 2020 and again on a four-day study exchange programme in Delhi, India in February 2020. During the Delhi exchange, the Fellows would also execute the community-based projects they would have been working on with each other for these several months.

Cambodian A4G 2019 Fellow Sous Sinath shared, “Through the Arts for Good Fellowship, I have learnt several tools I need to create global partnerships, which are key to sustainable arts development, and strengthen the capacity of young cultural innovators in solving issues of global concerns in Asia. For young Cambodian artists, these partnerships will give them more opportunities to develop the arts community and get more support from the SIF and other Singapore partners in future.”

Besides dialogues with representatives from organisations such as National Arts Council, the Fellows went on several learning journeys to The Artground and National Gallery Singapore to gain insights on how interactive creative experiences  can empower children and youth, as well as The Arts House with master storyteller Kamini Ramachandran to get a flavour of Singapore’s history through an engaging interpretation of traditional folklore.

At the end of four days, the sense of community and enthusiasm for future collaborations amongst the Fellows was palpable.  British A4G Fellow Sunniva Ramsay shared: “The Arts for Good Fellowship is Singapore’s leading example of fostering global artistic engagement and sharing, with the imperative of creating new connections to harness social impact and change. The passion and creativity demonstrated by this unique group of Fellows, have the potential - with the facilitation of the SIF - to create and empower the next generation of artistically-led social innovation.”

A community mural created collaboratively by the Fellows explored what Arts for Good means to each of them. In the spirit of harnessing the power of arts and culture to create positive social change, they explored common themes in their creations like “love”, “healing”, “connection”, “community” and “inclusion”.

Vietnamese Fellow Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy also echoed similar sentiments, “The stories I heard from the Fellows and Singaporean speakers inspired me greatly about how to effect more positive change in the community. Now I believe that cross-cultural interactions can build a better world based on peace, understanding and empathy.”

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About the Arts for Good (A4G) Fellowship
The A4G Fellowship is organised annually to grow the Arts for Good ecosystem, by fostering a community of practice that harnesses the power of arts and culture to create positive social change. The Fellowship brings together cross-sector professionals such as artists, art administrators, creatives and programmers from the social sector on a programme comprising webinars and exchange programmes. Upon completion, Fellows join a group of global alumni where they continue to connect, support and collaborate with one another.

The inaugural edition of the fellowship was first held in Singapore  in 2017 and followed by a subsequent study visit in Kuala Lumpur, while the second edition culminated in a study visit in Chennai. Read more about the 2019 Arts for Good Fellowship Fellows here and about the programme here .

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