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Nurturing artistic talent among our youth

Speech for Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the 25th anniversary of NUS Centre For the Arts


07 September 2018

President of NUS, Professor Tan Eng Chye;

Provost, Professor Ho Teck Hua;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good evening, and congratulations on the 25th Anniversary of NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA).  

NUS CFA’s role in Singapore’s arts ecosystem

2. This silver jubilee is indeed a milestone. 25 years after the late President Wee Kim Wee launched the CFA in 1993, NUS has made great strides in its provision of opportunities in the arts for its students.   NUS students now enjoy access to structured training, respected arts professionals serving as tutors for each of the CFA’s 22 student arts excellence groups, the opportunity to perform and engage in state-of-the-art venues such as this Cultural Centre, and your very own NUS Museum and heritage Baba House.    

3. 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. The Centre also contributes to the quality of education in NUS by giving its students an avenue to explore and develop in the arts. 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. I’m glad to hear how the Centre will be closely integrated with the curriculum, and will also be an integral part of the student experience in the University.

Nurturing artistic excellence among our youths

4. Over the years, NUS CFA has successfully enabled creative collaboration between students, faculty and professional artists. All of NUS CFA’s performing arts groups are mentored by established industry professionals. For example, theatre director Edith Podesta shares with NUS Stage her research-oriented methods. The opening performance which will be performed later by NUS Dance Synergy is choreographed by NAC Young Artist Award recipient Yarra Ileto, as well as professional dancers and choreographers Albert Tiong and Goh Shou Yi. Such experiences not only allow our youths to learn from experienced practitioners, but also provide a meaningful way for our arts community to give back and develop future generations of practitioners.

5. The results of these efforts are clearly reflected by the works produced by the artistic talents nurtured by the CFA. Jay Lim, an alumnus from NUS Electronic Music Lab, wrote the National Day song last year. Shiv Tandan’s The Good The Bad And The Sholay premiered at an NUS Arts Festival before being presented at Singapore’s pinnacle performing arts venue, the Esplanade. Kirsten Tan, director of the celebrated Pop Aye, honed her interest in film-making as a member of NUStudios, an NUS CFA film production group. And just two months ago, the NUSChoir was crowned ‘Choir of the World’ at the prestigious Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod in Wales – the first time a Singaporean choir has won this award. All of these artists have not only made NUS proud, but also made Singapore and Singaporeans proud of you.  Congratulations NUS!

Fostering cohesion and confidence through the arts

6. Works like these, clearly have the power to inspire and move people and society. Our arts and culture reflect the changes, aspirations and concerns of society, thus bringing people together to shape our sense of national identity. For these reasons, the government supports our artists in producing works that reflect our multicultural make-up.  We are also committed to ensuring that our cultural offerings are accessible to all, not least our youth, as we believe that experience with the arts can help our youth become better equipped to bridge differences and forge connections across communities. Events such as the NUS Arts Festival and ExxonMobil Campus Concerts bring generations of students and Singaporeans from all races, all ages and all walks of life together to enjoy the arts, discover commonalities and learn about other cultures and traditions through the different art forms.

7. Through cross-disciplinary classes and interactions, students also gain exposure to a diversity of ideas.  For example, the Centre for Quantum Technologies and NUS Indian Dance collaborated on a dance which portrayed concepts on energy and particles in quantum mechanics. Sociology students learning about the perspectives of human form in society may visit the NUS Museum’s Ng Eng Teng collection to expand their vision of depictions of the human body.  Such initiatives not only create a space for student engagement and their creative expressions, but also open up conversations and dialogues about differences and commonalities, and equip our youth with the skills and perspectives necessary to face the world of tomorrow with confidence.


8. To paraphrase the late President Wee Kim Wee at the inauguration of NUS CFA, a larger interest in the arts would enrich life and makes for a well-rounded graduate. The work of NUS CFA remains important for future generations of our youths, and I look forward to the next 25 years, or 50 years, as you continue to enrich both our campus and community life through the arts and culture.

9. Happy Birthday, CFA!

Last Updated: 11 September 2018

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