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Fostering unity and friendship among youth

The Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund helps to raise awareness and understanding of ASEAN culture

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In August this year, Singapore hosted 'Hyperplay', the first-ever ASEAN e-sports and music festival. (Above): Malaysia and the Philippines competing at Hyperplay on Aug 4.

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In August this year, Singapore hosted 'Hyperplay', the first-ever ASEAN e-sports and music festival. (Above): KL Hunters from Malaysia took home the Hyperplay trophy at MTV Spotlight @ Hyperplay on Aug 5.

STRENGTHENING people-to- people ties among people of the region through the arts, culture and sports is a key focus under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community pillar.

The Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund, started by the National Youth Council (NYC) in 2007, supports efforts that foster unity and friendship among ASEAN youth, and increases awareness and understanding of ASEAN culture.

This year, the fund was renewed with a S$5 million top-up. Open to youths aged 15 to 35, the fund supports projects in areas such as leadership development, education, the environment, community service and entrepreneurship.

To date, about 200,000 youths have benefitted from projects supported under the fund across South-east Asia.

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These projects promote entrepreneurship, education and the environment, and more.

They have helped to foster unity and forge friendship among ASEAN youths, as well as an increased awareness and understanding of ASEAN culture.

One such effort is the Puppet Arts for Change Workshop and Tour, a 10-month puppet art project started by 25 young people.

After a workshop and performances in Singapore this year, the youth did the same for vulnerable communities in their own country, together with other volunteers they recruited locally.

Another project saw eight Youth Corps Singapore members, in collaboration with the Young Men's Christian Association of Singapore, travel to Kampong Cham in Cambodia in 2017 to renew computers in a computer laboratory at Chun Nat High School.

E-SPORTS AND MUSIC FESTIVAL

In August this year, Singapore hosted "Hyperplay", the first-ever ASEAN e-sports and music festival.

It was introduced as part of a larger ASEAN-themed youth celebration called "YOUTH x" and initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and NYC.

"Hyperplay" gathered over 8,000 youths from all walks of life and across ASEAN through e-sports, music and other youth activities.

In October 2018, an ASEAN Youth Fellowship programme was also launched, where young leaders from the region were brought together for a week-long programme of dialogues, learning journeys and experiential activities in Singapore.

The region's arts and culture was also showcased throughout the year.

ASEAN talents in contemporary music and song-writing were profiled at the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts, an event organised by the National Arts Council and supported by MCCY.

The National Gallery Singapore has been active in raising awareness of lesser-known aspects of the art histories of Singapore and South-east Asia. The gallery ran an exhibition earlier this year, titled "Between Worlds: Raden Saleh and Juan Luna", that allowed visitors to understand the development of works by South-east Asian artists in the 19th Century.

It was the first time that visitors got to see the rare masterpieces of the two artists - from Indonesia and the Philippines respectively - which received critical acclaim in Europe in the 19th Century.

This year, the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) theme "Year of South-east Asia" is also focusing on connections, heritage, and culture within the region, and with the rest of the world.

Among the offerings from the theme was a special exhibition held from April 8 to July 29.

The exhibition looked at Angkor, which is widely considered to be among the world's most magnificent architectural masterpieces, and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Titled "Angkor: Exploring Cambodia's Sacred City", the exhibition brought this world heritage to Singaporean audiences, where they experienced first-hand, both the beauty and timelessness of Khmer Art, as well as how Angkor and the Khmers captured the imagination of the world.

In December, ACM will be presenting "South-east Asia in the World" with the launch of three new galleries: Ancestors and Rituals, Islamic Art and Christian Art.

Together with the exhibits in the Trade galleries, objects on display in these new galleries greatly increase the representation of South-east Asia within the museum.

The Ancestors and Rituals gallery, for instance, will display a range of South-east Asian objects that come from different hill tribes and maritime communities in the region.

Among the highlights will be a rare makara ornament for a palanquin used only in ceremonies in the north-eastern part of the Malay Peninsula, and a wooden hornbill figurine from Borneo.

MUSEUM TRAILS

ACM will also launch a new series of museum trails, beautifully illustrated by Singaporean artist Muneera Malek.

With curated versions for families and adults, the trails provide an understanding of South-east Asia's role in the world through ornate museum objects.

The museum will end the year with its signature programme, "Asian Culture and Music Series", featuring ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand.

The next instalment on Thai culture and music, to be held on Dec 28 and Dec 29, will feature a traditional Thai masked dance theatre by the river, special workshops and demonstrations, and a Thai pop concert on Empress Lawn.