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BT celebrates 13 years of helping over 16,000 young artists

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UOB presenting a cheque for S$500,000 to ChildAid to partially help The Business Times Budding Artists Fund continue its arts programmes for needy children. Front row (from left) Mr Colin Goh, CEO, The RICE Company Limited; Mr Koh Chye Hock, member, BT BAF advisory board; Mr Wong Wei Kong, editor, The Business Times; Mr Alvin Tay, chairman, BT BAF; BT BAF beneficiaries - Rey Phua, 10; and Ian Tan, 11; Mr Choo Kee Siong, managing director & head, enterprise banking, UOB; Ms Aminah Hussien, head, arts & community development, The RICE Company Limited; Mr Tan Tee Tong, director, The RICE Company Limited.

Singapore

SINCE 2005, more than 16,000 children and youths from needy backgrounds have been supported in their arts training by The Business Times' Budding Artists Fund (BTBAF).

At various arts centres run by not-for-profit organisation The RICE Company Limited, they learn singing, dancing, painting, playing a musical instrument or other art forms they have an aptitude for.

Last Friday and Saturday, about 100 of them came together to stage their biggest production in celebration of the fund's 13th anniversary.

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The show - My Story - combined song, dance, drama and visual arts to tell a moving story of how the fund came about and its subsequent impact on the lives of its beneficiaries. It was staged at youth arts centre 10 Square @ Orchard Central.

At the end of the night, Choo Kee Siong, managing director & head, enterprise banking, United Overseas Bank (UOB) presented a cheque for S$500,000 to BTBAF chairman Alvin Tay to help fund the arts centres' ongoing and future programmes. The donation will be made through ChildAid, the annual year-end children's charity concert organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times.

Mr Choo said: "At UOB, we believe the arts play an essential role in strengthening societal bonds. We also see it as an avenue for children to learn and to express themselves. This is why art, children and education form the pillars of our UOB Heartbeat Corporate Social Responsibility programme."

BTBAF rests on a similar conviction that no child with the potential or interest in the arts should be denied proper arts training due to their tight financial circumstances.

Mr Tay, former Business Times editor, said: "The impact of the arts on the lives of our beneficiaries has been far-reaching. We have witnessed how they have blossomed in spite of hardship and achieved many successes on their own terms."

Even if many of the children do not pursue the arts as adults, the opportunities to express themselves artistically and bond with like-minded individuals are formative experiences with their own rewards.

Aminah Hussien, head arts & community development, The RICE Company Limited, said: "There is so much more to these children's stories than their financial circumstances... Through all these challenges that they've faced, they've managed to find themselves, heal and find solace through what they do at our arts centres."

This year's ChildAid concert will take place at the end of November at Resorts World Sentosa, the venue sponsor.