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November 2023:

After 10 years, I left my job at the National Arts Council on 12 May 2023. While I had wanted to practise as an artist full time fresh out of university, I see now that the experience leading a team and working on arts policies, research, local and international partnerships, and even audits over the decade have helped me to develop a richer understanding of the arts ecosystem and sharpened my left brain functions. Not bad things to have with me as I wade out into the world.

Production image of Tender Submission. David is looking at his phone and laughing, while Catherine, sitting next to him, looks less amused.

Photography by Joseph Nair, courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre

In August, I co-directed Tender Submission with Huzir Sulaiman for Checkpoint Theatre. It was the first time that either of us had shared the directing role in this way, and an interesting collaboration because we are both very similar in terms of artistic sensibilities (taking joy in intricately-crafted moments) and very different people. As we went through rehearsals, I was reminded that even something as fundamental as the bodies we inhabit affect how we go through the world and the vantage points we can access - it can be an enriching process as we share our different perspectives.


Lately, I have been wondering how else (besides staging productions) the arts can be of service to the world. This has been seeping in the work I create and the things I’ve been learning. 


Image of a laptop opened to GarageBand, which contains a draft of the audio work.

Along with my producer, I am crafting an autobiographical audio work that aims to develop understanding and empathy for people who are struggling with their mental health or just a hard time. It has been great fun designing a different kind of intimate arts experience, and tinkering with everything from foley to various AI to design the soundscapes. We hosted two test sessions in May 2023, and will be refining the work based on the feedback. 


I have finally gotten down to learning sign language (at the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Federation Singapore) and the Foundations of Consent and Intimacy by Intimacy Directing and Coordinators (IDC). I am also working with Beyond Social Services on a theatre presentation and assisting with lessons at Art:Dis. Socially conscious art has come into clearer focus for me in the past few years. I’m still new to it but learning what I can, such as by attending the Accessibility and Inclusion Masterclass by Art:Dis, Breaking the Silence by Drama Box, and Reminiscence Arts for Dementia by Dementia SG. I hope to figure out how I can better contribute to this space in time to come.

AI generated image of an Asian woman wearing a stethoscope, with a colourful, furry covering. Behind her are pencils and medical equipment that are intertwined.

Similarly, I have been interested in the potential of the arts to contribute to education and development. In March 2023, I completed the Essentials of Teaching and Learning Approaches by SDEA, a certification course in arts instruction. I have been working on a medical humanities initiative at Duke-NUS Medical School's Supportive and Palliative Care Division since 2022. This year, besides the ongoing programme for Duke-NUS Year 4 students, I also had the opportunity to facilitate the Integrating Arts in Medical Education event for healthcare professionals and direct a reading of A Good Death at Assisi Hospice. I am also grateful to partner the Family Medicine ACP for their medical humanities event, where they explored their professional and personal identities through theatre. At the end of the year, I will be on a panel at the Performance and Health Symposium by NUS and LASALLE. 


Besides arts and health, I have been deepening my understanding of filmmaking through a hands-on course by Objectifs (stills of my short film below), and taking online courses such as Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change by the University of Michigan to expand my thought world and skillsets.



In this season, I am allowing myself to go towards what I am curious or care about (while suppressing my fears that they might not be marketable skills). This has led me to cross paths with wonderful people who have a real heart for others and skills to help and heal. While I don't have a very clear picture of what's next, I'm excited to see what will happen as the varied things that I have been learning about and interacting with this year percolate in my brain and lead to more encounters in the big, wide universe.


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