Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

Community Arts Singapore: Framework for a Community Indicator System

Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

Community Arts Singapore: Framework for a Community Indicator System

Article excerpt

As Singapore moves forward into the new year, the next phase of its development will be based on the creative capacity of its people, both local as well as foreign talents. The National Arts Council together with its partners from the five districts of Singapore, the Community Development Councils, creates various platforms for community engagement by integrating arts and culture into the lives of its residents.

Arts and culture have often been neglected in efforts to assess quality of life in Singapore. It is essential to integrate arts and culture-related measures into a Community Indicator System. This system should comprise of periodically collected measures that monitor quality of life at the community level. A framework for a Community Indicator System can be developed. The framework is based on the assumption that inclusion of arts, culture and creativity in quality of life measures is more meaningful when it relies on the collaborative efforts of the government and the community.

Inclusive communities are productive communities. This is the basic principle of a democratic country. Every person and neighbourhood deserves the opportunity to participate in government decision-making, to contribute to economic development through individual and cooperative initiative, and to share in the fruits of prosperity. The Singapore government encourages its citizens to organise effectively through various community and grassroots organisations, to solve their own problems, improve their environment and to contribute to the overall productivity of their community.

A Background on Community Development Councils

The five Community Development Councils (CDCs) function as local administrations for the five Districts of Singapore: Southwest, Northwest, Central, Northeast and Southeast. The CDCs administer various government programmes and schemes to help needy residents by providing social and job assistance. They also organise events and programmes to reach out to the community with Arts and Cultural programmes. Through the CDCs, residents are able to get involved in the various community programmes, thus fostering community bonding and social cohesion. As CDCs are closer to the residents, they will be more attuned to the needs of their communities.

Various platforms were provided at the district and constituency levels for local arts groups to perform. The CDCs hold occasional concerts and bring in performing acts for residents. One such activity is the South West CDC "Saturday Series" where residents were treated to various visual and performing arts to enhance their understanding of the different cultures.

The Central CDC organises a series of arts and cultural programmes. The objective is to promote an interest for the arts and to enhance interaction and bonding of the different races in Singapore. Its Community Life Arts Programme (CLAP) provides a platform for community, grassroots and school-based arts groups to perform alongside professional groups. CLAP performances target residents in the heartlands, exposing them to various arts programmes. Every Saturday, the Heartlands CLAP series perform to an average of 700 to 1,000 residents at various locations.

The North East CDC organises a series of music competition called "North East Music Mix". The aim is to reach out to youths in the community allowing them to build up self-esteem and confidence. The event also provides a platform for youths to express their creativity and talents.

Through various arts and cultural activities, the North West CDC aims to bridge residents of different ethnic groups together, promoting community bonding and healthy interaction among them. The November month-long North West Arts Festival of 2006 attracted more than 40,000 residents. It served as a valuable platform for the community participants to display their talents. The programmes included ethnic performances as well as rock music performances. …

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