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BT BAF celebrates 15 years of transforming lives

Budding Artists Fund beneficiaries continue their lessons online during the ongoing circuit breaker.

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Former BT BAF beneficiary Nur Afiqah conducting a dance class at The Little Arts Academy.

THE Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BT BAF) celebrates its 15th anniversary on May 11, having served over 19,000 beneficiaries through a range of programmes such as arts camps, workshops and structured arts training. Through these programmes at The Little Arts Academy (LAA) and 10 Square Youth training centres, the fund has helped to nurture Singapore's next generation of artists and creative professionals.

Aminah Hussien, head (arts and community) of The RICE Company Limited (TRCL) which manages BT BAF, said: "Our beneficiaries come from family backgrounds that are less privileged and would not have access to sustained training to develop their artistic talents to the fullest. After we set up The Little Arts Academy and 10 Square Youth in 2008 and 2014 respectively, we see them flourish in their chosen art forms, and more notably, also grow in their socio-emotional developments and aspirations. They become more disciplined, confident and motivated, which are essential life skills."

A majority of the alumni from 10 Square Youth have gone on to pursue tertiary education at institutions of higher learning such as the School of the Arts, the Institute of Technical Education, the polytechnics and arts colleges NAFA and Lasalle College of the Arts.

Meanwhile, even with the ongoing circuit breaker, 500 BT BAF beneficiaries at both LAA and 10 Square Youth continue their lessons online through TRCL's #Engage initiative and can also share the lessons with those at home.

A former BT BAF beneficiary, Nur Afiqah, has also come forward to work with vulnerable children and youth under the #Engage initiative, which provides online arts and lifestyle lessons to students from over 30 primary and secondary schools. Ms Nur Afiqah, who graduated in dance from Lasalle College of the Arts, has been teaching hip-hop to primary students.

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She said: "I agreed to work on #Engage as it was an amazing platform that allowed me to connect with a wide range of students online and spread the love of dance amid the current pandemic situation."

"Despite the fact that I could only see the students through the computer screen, they were still very excited to learn. I had to continually find alternatives to engage the students in a different manner as I would usually do in a dance studio. It forces me to be more creative in my teaching methods and redefined my approach as a dance educator. #Engage has been an interesting experience for me and I hope that art initiatives such as this continue to engage the community at this trying time."

For students such as 14-year-old Gervelle, #Engage delivers the opportunity to learn new things and have something exciting to look forward to every week during the circuit breaker.

Noting there is still more work to be done, Ms Aminah said: "We are immensely grateful for the continued collaborations with and support of partners, donors and The Business Times over the past 15 years. We hope to impact even more children and youth as they become empowered to lead a transformed life through the arts."

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