The Arts for Good Forum, an international collaboration between the Singapore International Foundation and NalandaWay Foundation, was held in Chennai at the Stella Maris College. The forum brought together a dynamic group of educators, arts practitioners and programmers. Individuals working with the arts and youth exchanged ideas and shared best practices to create positive social change in diverse communities.
An engaging panel discussion was conducted on the topic ‘Empowering Youth through the Arts’ to an audience of nearly 100 members of the public. The panel was moderated by Sriram Ayer, SIF Arts for Good (Fellow) and CEO & Founder of the award-winning NGO, Nalandaway Foundation. He shared, “In a world that is increasingly threatened by growing nationalism, it is imperative for artists to play the role of peacemakers, connectors and negotiators. The Singapore International Foundation’s efforts to bring together a diverse group of practitioners, programmers, educators, researchers, and policymakers through the Arts for Good Fellowship programme is helping to build an ‘Arts for Good’ ecosystem that is much needed at present.”
The forum marks the end of the four – day Chennai Exchange Programme of the Arts for Good Fellowship organised by the SIF. Over the four days, 30 SIF Arts for Good fellows from 10 nationalities only gained insights into the arts for good scene in Chennai and but also carried out several arts- based collaborative projects. One of these projects saw SIF Arts for Good Fellows from Singapore, India, and UK collaborate to create a mural in a high school in Thiruvanmiyur. They co-created the mural with over 100 students from the high school. Portraying dreams, hope, faith, and creativity, the mural was completed over two days.
Another collaborative project was the infusion of a Tamil folk song with Malay dance movements for the students of a weekly Art Lab lessons conducted by the NalandaWay Foundation. Singaporean Muhammad Noramin Bin Mohamed Farid, SIF Arts for Good Fellow and Joint Artistic Director, Bhumi Collective led this effort with music educator Manjula Ponnapalli.
He shared, “From my collaborative experience here in Chennai, especially as an artist working with communities which is not my own, I still found openness amongst the students to take in what we were trying to communicate and learn alongside us. This is proof that there is possibility for intercultural exchange through artistic means. Although this is a very small example, this is something which can be replicated can be seen in other ways, through other artistic exchange and collaborations.”