Ten civil activists, artists and academics have banded together to form Project 50/100, which they have branded as an "alternative effort" to commemorate Singapore's golden jubilee next year.
The group, which holds its first public meeting tomorrow at the Artistry cafe in Bugis, is aiming for projects that "look back in time as well as forward to the centennial" - hence its name.
Its members include Mr Choo Zheng Xi, lawyer and founder of socio-political blog The Online Citizen; Ms Braema Mathi, president of human rights group Maruah; and Nanyang Technological University assistant professor Liew Kai Khiun. Researcher and playwright Tan Tarn How, who is also in the group, told The Straits Times: "We're looking for stories that are seldom told, not told, or alternatives to what is out there.
"We will also look at how Singapore should be, and can be, when the country turns 100."
He added that projects can take any format, including plays or seminars, and be on any issue or theme. They should also fulfil an educational outreach purpose.
He said Project 50/100, which uses the slogan "Because We Love Singapore", is not intended to run counter to efforts of the Singapore50 (SG50) committee tasked with planning events for the jubilee year. "It runs parallel, and is alternative in the sense that we'll be telling stories other than those told by SG50," he said.
The group intends to apply for grants from the SG50 Celebration Fund, which was set up to provide selected projects with up to $50,000 in funding.
Funds for projects by the group will also be raised via donations and crowd-funding.
Mr Alvin Tan, founder and artistic director of theatre group The Necessary Stage and who sits on both the SG50 and Project 50/100 steering committees, said he was excited about gathering "people stories, which may have been overlooked".
But it might be "very difficult for works in areas that might fall outside the funding parameters of the SG50" to secure grants.
Citing the example of late theatre doyen Kuo Pao Kun, who was once seen as a dissident but has been celebrated since his passing, he asked: "What about other people whose works might be at odds with the state, such as filmmakers Martyn See and Lynn Lee?"
"A lot of people tend to reduce alternative as opposition, which is a mistake. It's not a bad word, but can also be tangential to the norm," he said.
As such, there is room for more than one collective effort to mark the golden jubilee, he said, describing Project 50/100 as a ground-up initiative. "Isn't that a positive thing for active citizenry?"
This article was published on Aug 21 in The Straits Times.
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