Celebrating the arts, 25 years on

11 September 2018 | General News
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The NUS Arts Festival 2018 opened with On the Shoulders of Giants by NUS Dance Synergy (Photo: Justin Koh)

Two hundred artists, alumni, faculty and students gathered at the University Cultural Centre Atrium to mark the 25th anniversary of NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) and welcome the NUS Arts Festival 2018: If We Dream on 7 September.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye began the event by reaffirming CFA’s role as a facilitator of transformative experiences within NUS.

“CFA’s core focus is, and will always be, to augment our students’ educational experience; CFA endeavours to use the arts as a platform for nurturing students to become more creative, well-rounded and capable individuals,” he said. “CFA develops students to think critically, broadly and creatively; through engagement with the arts, students also learn to communicate well and collaborate with others. These are transferrable skills that are increasingly important in the future economy.”

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Prof Tan delivering the welcome address

Prof Tan highlighted that CFA has helped develop many “fine local talents” including Ms Joanna Dong, Ms Jeanette Aw, Ms Kirsten Tan, Ms Eunice Olsen and Mr Tan Boon Hui, stressing that “…we hope to create an environment that supports greater risk taking, collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking.”

In the opening address by Guest-of-Honour Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, she emphasised the importance of creativity, both within and beyond artistic practice, noting that CFA was part of the national ecosystem for arts-based education.

“Alongside our national arts and heritage institutions, NUS CFA plays an important role in developing artistic excellence in our youth. This is a critical component of our national arts ecosystem. By allowing students to explore, create and present different art forms, and by promoting art appreciation among its wider student population, the CFA plays the critical role of developing the next generation of arts practitioners and supporters.”

She added that in a future where the art-science dichotomy is increasingly blurred, or as many are saying, that art and science have to be integrated for innovation to take place, the Centre will play an even more meaningful role in the University’s education offering.

CFA develops students to think critically, broadly and creatively; through engagement with the arts, students also learn to communicate well and collaborate with others. These are transferrable skills that are increasingly important in the future economy.

To mark the anniversary, Ms Fu stood alongside Prof Tan, Ms Sharon Tan, CFA Director and representatives from the industry, the student body and alumni cohort, to simultaneously release 100 metronomes. Each metronome was set to a different speed to represent the individuality of student artists, and the performance as a whole signified the passing of time as well as the diversity and spirit of collaboration demonstrated by CFA.

Guests at the event included CFA’s founding Director and poet Emeritus Professor Edwin Thumboo, Cultural Medallion recipient Mrs Santha Bhaskar and NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua.

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Ms Fu and Ms Tan (far right) with Emeritus Prof Thumboo (far left) and Emeritus Prof Lim Pin

Following the anniversary event, the guests were treated to the sell-out opening performance of the NUS Arts Festival — On the Shoulders of Giants by NUS Dance Synergy. This was the first full-length production for Artistic Director and NAC Young Artist Award recipient Ms Yarra Ileto. Working alongside choreographers Mr Albert Tiong and Mr Goh Shou Yi, the production used dance to question who the creative giants were that the next generation of artists in Singapore must stand on.

The NUS Arts Festival runs from 7 to 23 September, bringing together student artists, faculty members and industry professionals in an eclectic mix of compelling performances, immersive experiences and profound conversations that envision the potency, and sometimes the perils, of dreaming. Dynamic choreography from Singapore’s leading dance doyens in contemporary, Malay and Indian dance, as well as theatre that moves hearts and stimulates questions about who we are, visual arts that provoke and a slew of award-winning international films climax in a heady weekend of music.

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The NUS Arts Festival 2018 offers an eclectic mix of arts performances

For more information on the festival, please visit www.nusartsfestival.com.

By the NUS Centre For the Arts