Funds for VWOs reaching out through arts

Funds for VWOs reaching out through arts
Mr Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Ms Low Yen Ling (right), mayor-designate of South West District, making bags out of recycled T-shirts at the launch of the WeCare Arts Fund.

SINGAPORE - Voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) can now take arts to the less privileged, with the launch of a $1.5 million fund.

Called the WeCare Arts Fund, each VWO can receive a maximum of $5,000 per project and up to $10,000 per year to pay for the arts programmes it aims to introduce.

The money can go towards the fee for hiring an artist to teach beneficiaries arts and crafts or material costs, for example.

Launched yesterday, the WeCare Arts Fund is a partnership between the National Arts Council (NAC) and the five community development councils (CDCs). Over the next three years, it is expected to reach out to some 2,500 beneficiaries.

The CDCs will administer the fund and match interested VWOs to artists to develop arts programmes.

So far, close to 20 VWOs out of the more than 400 here have expressed interest to tap on the grant.

They can apply for the fund online, and project proposals will be assessed by the NAC and the respective CDC based on criteria such as the ability to create a high level of engagement among the targeted beneficiaries.

Thye Hua Kwan Seniors Activity Centre @ Boon Lay is one of the VWOs keen on this initiative.

It has engaged a freelance artist to teach the seniors how to make arts and crafts items from things like plastic bags or paper cups.

Said Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities' chief executive, Lee Ngak Siang: "So far, response has been very positive. Art can help (the elderly in their) motor skills and their thinking, and can get them to bond...The artists we used to engage were volunteers, and not paid.

"But if they are paid, they'd probably feel that they can play a bigger role. Those who are volunteers come only when they have the time."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who launched the fund, said that it is a "more concerted effort" to reach out to the disadvantaged and vulnerable.

"We've seen, for example, in some of the different projects that we have done, how arts can really transform lives, how arts can give people more confidence, can help them to express themselves creatively in new ways," he added. "We think that arts can be a very powerful medium, whether for rehabilitation or for counselling."

MP Denise Phua, the new head of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development, said: "The purpose of this fund is really to signal that art is something that is useful...and promotes life quality, but it also signals the philosophy and value that if something is a common good, it should be made available to people from all walks of life."

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