Budget 2014: VWOs can tap on $1.5m fund for art programmes

Budget 2014: VWOs can tap on $1.5m fund for art programmes
Regular participants Madam Maligah Arumugan Ramasamy (right) and Madam Loke Swee Heong benefit from the art programmes they attend at Tsao Foundation's Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing. They sew, paint and make pottery among their friends.

Voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) that use the arts in their programmes can soon tap on a new fund.

Some $1.5 million will be set aside over three years for this fund under ArtReach, a National Arts Council (NAC) initiative to take the arts to the less privileged.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Sam Tan said in Parliament yesterday: "We believe that the arts and sports have the potential to uplift our society - including the underserved and vulnerable."

NAC will administer the fund and match interested VWOs to artists to develop the programmes.

These could include those where the arts are used to improve the well-being of the elderly, or as a rehabilitative tool to help people cope with grief, for instance.

NAC will work with community development councils to ensure that the projects are "coordinated and have maximum impact in the community", said Mr Tan.

He cited Hua Mei's Elder-centred Programme of Integrated Comprehensive Care as a good example. Run by the Tsao Foundation's Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing, it offers a range of quality art activities, from painting and sewing to drumming.

A regular participant, Madam Maligah Arumugan Ramasamy, 79, shows "great talent" and forgets her chronic pains when she is engaged in pottery, said Mr Tan.

Centre director Peh Kim Choo welcomed the new funding support and agreed that the arts benefit the elderly.

"Old people are usually reminded of their weaknesses, how frail they are," she said.

"But when they create something beautiful and people enjoy their work, they discover their strengths."

Some of their works were exhibited at venues such as a Tiong Bahru cafe and Tan Tock Seng Hospital last year.

Madam Loke Swee Heong, 84, who paints or sews at the centre thrice a week, said: "It relieves me of boredom. I am happy to be able to paint and sew with my friends here."

More details of the fund will be given next month.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg


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