Cultivating Our Artists of Tomorrow

Cultivating Our Artists of Tomorrow

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Children with a talent in performing and visual arts can now pursue their passion and hone their craft through the Arts Development Award.


Leanna Wang, a recipient of Arts Development Award, attending an arts lesson in school.

Leanna Wang may just be 11 years old, but she already dreams of becoming an art teacher when she grows up. “I want to teach, spread the love of art, and inspire others – just like my teacher,” said the Primary 5 student from Ang Mo Kio Primary School.

Having a soft spot for landscape art, colour pencils are her medium of choice for drawing beautiful panoramic sceneries like sunsets and mountains.

Initially, her canvas was the mahjong paper that her parents lined on the walls in her home. Slowly, her parents noticed her art works on the wall and further encouraged her.

“She’d always be spontaneously creating crafts – she will make little rooms out of paper, or even little books for her dolls,” noticed Mr Jabir Wang, Leanna’s father.

We will give her origami paper, and materials to draw on. We don’t stop her, we just want her to enjoy learning and be happy.

Madam Lenny Muliani, Leanna's mother

When it was time to pick a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in Primary 3, Leanna’s parents urged her to join the art club. It was here that she had the opportunity to receive guidance from her teachers in drawing and pottery.

Last year, Leanna’s artistic potential was recognised when she was one of 23 pupils who received the Arts Development Award (ADA).

Supported by Temasek Foundation, the award provides opportunities for Primary 4 to 6 students from underprivileged families to access arts education early.

Children with artistic potential in performing or visual arts can benefit from consistent exposure and structured training in foundation techniques through participating in extracurricular programmes offered by arts organisations. The annual $2,000 award covers their course fees, materials, costumes and transport costs.

In addition to the weekly classes that the recipients attend, awardees will also be paired with buddies from the School of the Arts (Sota) who will support them in their academic, artistic and personal growth. This is a win-win arrangement, since the Sota students will also get to develop their character and leadership skills.

“It made me think about the times when I was back in the awardee’s age. I’d really liked to have a senior who could be like a mentor or a guide for me. That would have given me a lot more confidence in pursuing this unconventional path,” said Ong Ee Ying, a Year 3 student at Sota who is one of Leanna’s buddies.

As Leanna and her parents look to the future after she completes her Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) in 2020, she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her buddy and pursue further studies in arts education.

Leanna's family supports her dream of pursuing an arts education.

Where dancers teach dancers

Whenever 12-year-old Toh Meng Yao has time to spare in her home, she would often be caught prancing around her house while tapping to YouTube tunes.

“Some of the moves are very difficult, and I will need some time to digest. I will keep practicing to sharpen my moves whenever I can,” said the Primary 6 girl from Bendemeer Primary School.

Meng Yao is part of the Chinese dance CCA at her school. But even as she excels in traditional dance, she is keen on exploring new dance styles.

The ADA has enabled her to do just that: “I picked up hip hop last year. When I first learnt, it was very exciting – the moves are very cool. I think I have improved quite a lot over a year of training, thanks to the award. I think I am much better at my floor work now,” she shared.

Like Leanna, she turns to her Sota buddies for advice whenever they meet at events or dance performances. “It’s an opportunity for me to share my experience in the arts, and contribute to the arts scene here,” said Salin Yap, a buddy from Sota.

Meng Yao’s family is also a strong pillar of support. Her mother, Mrs Ita Toh, is so proud to see her daughter perform on stage.

“Since K1, she would come home and tell me that she loves participating in all the school dance activities,” Mrs Toh recalled.

If she chooses to pursue dancing as a career in future, I will give her my fullest support, so long as she enjoys doing it. So if kids have an interest in something, we should support them.


Mrs Ita Toh, Meng Yao's mother


Credits: SOTA Singapore


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