At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 9th about 30 Yale-NUS College students, with interests ranging from the visual arts to acting, singing, film studies, and dance, trickled into Seminar Rooms One and Two, greeted by plenty of Baileys Irish Cream. Arts Programming, operating under the Educational Resource Center, was holding its kickoff meeting to inform the students about its goals for the arts community at Yale-NUS.
Since its opening in 2013, the arts at Yale-NUS have been largely student-driven, according to Shanice Stanislaus ’17. “I remember…a lot of energy and this need to create and this need to learn, this very vibrant arts community,” she said.
Many students ended up doing a lot of self teaching, but towards the end of the year, Zhiwen Yap ’17 said she realized that, “there’s a limit as to how much we can teach one another. After a while I’m done teaching.”
Students were able to raise these concerns during the meeting, where their questions were answered by Gurjeet Singh, Head of Arts Programming, and Dean’s Fellow Lian Hai Guang, who also works in Arts Programming. In the meeting, Singh told the students that he plans to set up workshops and other programs to help students improve as artists.
Singh and Lian, however, also stressed that their goal was not to lead the Arts community at Yale-NUS and urged students to take initiative and innovate. “Arts programming is not just about bringing in resources, but also in developing students,” Lian said.
Singh further stressed the point, saying, “If nothing comes from the students, we don’t invent stuff [for them].”
Many students raised concerns about lack of space at RC4 inhibiting the arts at Yale-NUS. Singh acknowledged that there is no quick fix until the new campus is ready, but also highlighted the power of found spaces, areas transformed into practice places by students. Yap brought up that “navigating your limitation,” leaves the possibility for traditions unique to Yale-NUS.
“We actually have a singer who practices singing in the stairwell. I’m looking at potentially having a concert in the stairwell,” Singh said.
Lian hopes that Arts Programming will facilitate more collaboration among the student groups. Attendees agreed that ArtsMEET’s intimacy coupled with its variety of student interests encouraged collaboration. Keith Tong ’18 applauded the Arts Meet saying, “ At least now we have a platform to reach additional groups we may or may not know existed.”
The students expressed interest at the meeting to spend the near future developing the art community’s identity, in sync with the hopes of Arts Programming. “Who we are, in terms of the texture we are, will shift with the students,” Singh said. “We do hold the intent… for them to develop that voice.”
During the meeting, plans were highlighted to bring the arts at Yale-NUS beyond the college and engage the public. “The arts is one way you can really involve the public and get them to know that this is Yale-NUS,” Yap said.
The first step now, according to Singh, is setting up general workshops in a variety of disciplines to help students determine exactly which direction they hope to move the community.