Making the arts accessible to the young

Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors by The Birmingham Stage Company will be staged as part of KidsFest! 2014.

SINGAPORE - We thank Ms Tan Yee Nee ("Improve accessibility to the arts for pre-schoolers"; last Thursday) and Ms Estella Young ("Plenty of affordable arts activities for young kids"; Tuesday) for their views on the cost and accessibility of the arts for children and families.

We are heartened that they see the arts as crucial when nurturing children.

As Ms Young has pointed out, aside from the arts programmes like KidsFest organised by commercial companies, the arts scene for young children here offers a variety of activities by libraries, community clubs and museums that are "free or very affordably priced".

While the National Arts Council (NAC) does not intervene in the ticketing decisions of commercial companies, we support the accessibility of arts events to all children and youth through our grants to arts groups, ticket subsidies to schools, and programmes.

For example, arts groups supported by the NAC offer high-quality productions for children. These groups include I Theatre, Paper Monkey, The Finger Players, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Dance Theatre. Tickets to such productions can start from $10.

Also, the NAC's Arts Education Programme, funded by the Tote Board Arts Grant, offers a 50 per cent subsidy on the ticket prices of professional arts performances and exhibitions for primary and secondary schools, Institutes of Technical Education, junior colleges and special education schools.

Such performances include the Singapore Repertory Theatre's Goldilocks And The Three Bears and The Theatre Practice's Mulan.

We are exploring whether a similar subsidy can be extended to the pre-school sector.

The NAC also has programmes targeted at young children to enhance their learning and development.

For example, this year, the Singapore Writers Festival's annual school initiative, Words Go Round, will introduce to kindergartens customised pre-primary programmes, on top of free public programmes such as interactive story-telling sessions by authors Fang Su-Chen and Rosemarie Somaiah at the Little Arts Academy next month.

To deepen outreach efforts specifically in the pre-school sector, the NAC will continue to work with its partners, the Ministry of Education and the Early Childhood Development Agency to increase provisions for arts programming to pre-schoolers.

Through these efforts, we hope children of all ages and backgrounds will be able to enjoy rich and imaginative artistic experiences.

Kenneth Kwok

Director, Arts & Youth

National Arts Council

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