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New digital tech art studio for needy kids

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From far left: Alvin Lim, head of digital, HSBC Bank (Singapore); Clara Lim-Tan, deputy chairman, The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BT BAF); Colin Goh, CEO, The RICE Company Limited with BT BAF beneficiaries (from far left): Liu Ruoran, 10; Nashariyah Shamsudin, 13; and Melati Jahari, 13.

Singapore

YOUNG children now have the opportunity to produce art with virtual reality - using technology typically only available at tertiary institutions.

This experience is on offer at The Little Arts Academy's (LAA) new campus at Northpoint City in Yishun, which was officially opened on Saturday.

The LAA was founded in 2008 to provide training in music, dance, theatre and visual arts for free, for the beneficiaries of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund. The fund supports arts training for financially-disadvantaged children in Singapore.

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Its new Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) studio is one of the first in the region specifically designed for younger children to experience learning through virtual reality and 3D technology.

In addition to the CAVE studio, the new centre will also have Tech + Art modules where students can pick up skills in creative media technologies.

LAA's programmes aim to teach children as young as six to direct and produce their own shows incorporating digital technologies, said Aminah Hussien, head of arts and community at The Rice Company Limited, a not-for-profit group that manages LAA.

"In this process, we also hope to enable our young to gain a right mindset and the confidence to be part of a future-ready workforce that is constantly disrupted by the use of digital technology," she added.

The CAVE studio was developed to create a unique teaching-learning environment for a full range of technologies such as augmented reality, mixed reality, holograms and 360-degree videos.

It was made possible by the support of HSBC.

"We wanted to sponsor this project because it not only benefits under-served children from disadvantaged families, which is something that is always close to our hearts, it also helps to nurture a future generation of tech savvy and creative adults," said Alvin Lim, head of digital at HSBC Bank (Singapore).

"As Singapore has just topped the 'smart city' global ranking and is a leader in the Smart Cities Network across Asean, we feel that this initiative is particularly timely and beneficial to our young people."

Clara Lim-Tan, deputy chairman of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, said: "We are grateful to HSBC for their generosity and support . . . as this will mark BT BAF's first step into the world of digital technology.

"We are cognisant of current and emerging trends in education that are shaping how people learn and are excited about the possibilities and opportunities that CAVE brings.

"We will continue to stay abreast of such developments to ensure that the programmes that we design for our beneficiaries remain meaningful and relevant."