Music notes are their voice

18 April 2022, Lianhe Zaobao

In life, autistic people have difficulty expressing themselves in ways that most people can understand. This often leads to them being misunderstood or withdrawing further into their own world. However, music may be a way to bridge this gap, enabling them to communicate their thoughts. Peter Sau, Head of Artistic Development and Performing Arts at ART:DIS, as well as other music educators weigh in on this topic, illustrating how music has the ability to help autistic children build self-confidence, form friendships, relate to others and learn life skills.

Lianhe Zaobao © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission
Chee Jun Hong, String Instructor of The Purple Symphony, teaching a group of young musicians with autism a piece of chamber music.

New arts space in Bukit Merah for people with disabilities

15 December 2021, The Straits Times

Very Special Arts Singapore revealed our new brand name, ART:DIS, in a ceremony attended by Minister Desmond Lee, the charity’s patron Professor Tommy Koh and 48 other distinguished guests. Our Executive Director, Maureen Goh, further announced three new initiatives to accompany our brand change. This includes the opening of a new arts centre in Bukit Merah, the launch of a new building block in our pathways and the beginning of new genres of classes for our Foundation level student.

The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission

40 years of work by late artist on display

25 August 2021, The Straits Times

A memorial exhibition for our professional artist and dear friend, the late Chng Seok Tin, is on show at The Arts House from 21–29 August. Titled Remembrance of a Friend, the over 60 artworks on display covered a range of mediums and spanned 40 years from 1975 till 2016. The curation of pieces saw many friends, students and family recalling fond memories of the tenacious printmaker. Professor Tommy Koh, our Patron and Founder, shared that Seok Tin was “a woman of talent, courage and accomplishments.”

The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission

The disabled and the arts

27 May 2021, The Straits Times
Our patron and founder, Professor Tommy Koh, writes an opinion piece about the humble beginnings of ART:DIS and the journey we’ve traversed since our establishment in 1993. We are proud of the numerous young talents and veteran artists who have stood tall on public platforms. But more can and must be done for the disabled community in Singapore, emphasised Professor Koh. “Public opinion towards the disabled has improved but is still sub-optimal… My dream is that, one day, all our disabled citizens will feel like first-class citizens,” he shared.
The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission

Gen Y: I am a blind performing artist

7 March 2021, TODAY

Our artist-in-training, Claire Teo, shares about her experience navigating society as a visually impaired artist. She swallowed the tokenism and double-standards until a chance meeting with Peter Sau, Head of ART:DIS(S)’s Performing Arts and Artistic Development. The veteran artist-educator taught her to understand her self-worth and to fight for her own rights. “From Peter, I have learnt that working with disabled artists requires building an authentic connection without any prior notions,” she shared. Moving forward, Claire wants to advocate for greater visibility of disabled artists and encourage her fellow peers to stand courageously.

Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards honours 16 awardees

3 December 2020, Channel News Asia

The Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards celebrates the achievements of persons with disabilities. In its second edition, one of the recipients of the ‘UBS Achievement’ award was our professional artist, Dr Azariah. Despite a hearing impairment, he is an accomplished pianist who is committed to advocating for greater inclusion and employing his talents to support communities. Speaking at the award ceremony, Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong said: “We want to show the world what our persons with disabilities can achieve when given the opportunity to prove themselves.”

President meets vulnerable groups in coronavirus fight

23 February 2020, The Straits Times

As part of the President’s Challenge, an annual fund-raiser for the less fortunate, President Halimah Yacob visited various social service agencies that assist vulnerable groups such as ART:DIS Singapore. At our Bedok centre, President Halimah Yacob interacted with students to learn more about their progress. For instance, student Clarabelle is now more confident and able to exercise her independence since taking up literary and art classes at ART:DIS. “We challenged her to try and do things on her own,” said Magali Finet, Programmes Manager at ART:DIS.

Artworks by special needs students on display at bus interchange

16 February 2019, Lianhe Zaobao

To commemorate the opening of the newly renovated Choa Chu Kang bus interchange, seven of our artists-in-training were commissioned to create paintings for the space’s interior. With the theme My Futuristic City, students Floyd Thien, Titus Choo, Joshua Tang, Ezra Chan, Tan Si Xue, Noah Tan and Mitchell Soh exercised their creativity. The launch was graced by Minister of Health Mr Gan Kim Yong, as well as students and parents who were all proud of the artworks on display.

The first lead character with Down’s Syndrome on local television

17 September 2018, Channel News Asia

Our artist-in-training, Timothy Lee, joins new local English drama Kin as a regular cast member. The long-form series made television history with its decision to include a character with special needs as a leading role. Timothy, who has Down’s Syndrome, will portray Handsome, the youngest son of a tau huay shop owner. As an actor who is very involved in theatre, Timothy nailed the part in just one audition. “I don’t get nervous because I enjoy acting. Mummy helps me revise my script many times,” he shared. On the tailcoats of beloved drama Tanglin, there is much anticipation for Kin, with viewers eager to see how complicated family relationships play out. 

Budding artists with special needs can enrol in certificate course

14 June 2018, The Straits Times

Our artists-in-training would be able to sharpen their artistic skills with a new top-up certificate by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. This partnership will see the first cohort of eight students commencing the programme in October. Aaron James Yap, who has autism, is one such student and his mother shared; “It will be a stepping stone for him in his art education.” Ms Linda de Mello, who is Director of Sector Development at the National Arts Council, said: “We have witnessed an encouraging shift in the arts scene towards embracing diversity. It is heartening to see our arts institution foster greater inclusivity.”

True Colours Festival is beautiful like a rainbow

24 March 2018, Bak Chor Mee Boy

ART:DIS Singapore organised the True Colours Festival with the support of The Nippon Foundation and UNESCO. It was Asia-Pacific’s largest festival for persons with disabilities, with over 10,000 people and 200 performers from 20 nations uniting to celebrate diversity. “This festival is more important than ever, emphasising the need to treat the disabled as simply differently-abled individuals,” said Richard of Bak Chor Mee Boy. He shared that the many activities, interactions and performances touched him in many unexpected ways, demonstrating how abilities are so much in abundance across the spectrum.

Illustrator who has autism wants to be top comic artist

15 October 2017, TODAY

Our artist-in-training Kenneth Lee is one of the beneficiaries of the TODAY enable fund, which helps to realise the potential of persons with disabilities through financial support. Kenneth’s dream is to be a top comic artist and he practices daily after working hours. A peek into his sketchbook reveals cityscapes and characters out of a Japanese science fiction anime. Kenneth, who has mild autism spectrum disorder said: “I like details and complex stuff. These unique things from the TV and internet inspire me to draw.” Looking ahead, Kenneth is hoping to create and produce his own comic book.

Art helps to calm these special needs kids

26 September 2016, The New Paper

Our annual art competition See What I See returns for its 14th edition to encourage young persons with disabilities to express themselves with art. Following a judging by a panel, 17 winning pieces were exhibited at Forum Shopping Mall’s atrium, and one of which was Alexandra Ming’s watercolour painting of corals. It won second prize in the youth category and her mom shared: “Painting helps Alexandra to calm down and release her frustration. When she draws in yellow, she’s happy. Black means she’s sad or angry.” Such communication methods have enabled Alexandra’s mother to better understand her daughter who has autism.

VSA(S) rebranded to ARTDIS Singapore

13 December 2021

Very Special Arts Singapore announced its new name and logo – ART:DS Singapore – in a launch ceremony with Minister Desmond Lee as guest-of-honour. The new look underscores our desire to be a bold advocate for inclusion of persons with disabilities, and further renews our commitment to empowering them through the arts. By focusing on innovation, digitalisation, holistic pathways and collaboration between mainstream and disabled communities, the new name ensures our pivot to a sustainable future as a leader in the arts and disability sector. Read More

VSA(S) presents exhibition by Chng Seok Tin

14 January 2019

In conjunction with the Singapore Art Week, ART:DIS Singapore is proud to present renowned local artist Chng Seok Tin’s solo exhibition MY JOURNEY – Feel the Hope, Embrace The Shine. It will showcase the artists’ multidisciplinary artworks that were never exhibited before. Opening on 15 January and till 21 January, this exhibition includes several printmaking workshops and marks Chng Seok Tin’s 25th year of working with the charity to raise the profile of disabled artists in Singapore. Read More

Art winner brings Singapore’s history to life

19 September 2018

ART:DIS Singapore announce its 16th instalment of See What I See, an annual art competition. This year’s theme is Journey and received 639 submissions from 34 schools and related organisations. Ms Serene Sng, one of the participants, won the top prize in the Young Adult Category. Her artwork was heavily inspired by Singapore’s early history. Her award-winning artwork entitled “Singapore Journey” tells the audience a story of Singapore’s pre-colonial history. Read More

ART:DIS mark 25th anniversary with inclusive musical

23 August 2018

To mark 25 years of its commitment in offering access and opportunities for people with disabilities through the arts, ART:DIS Singapore will present its first-ever inclusive musical Free My Music, as part of its annual Welcome to My World. Directed by Artistic Director R Chandran, the founder of ACT 3 Theatrics, audiences can expect an extravaganza featuring numerous talented artists such as Danial Bawthan,  Redeafination, Jazz Association Singapore, Adelyn Koh, Maya Dance Theatre and more. Read More

Artists with disabilities gets certified by NAFA

14 June 2018

A milestone partnership between ART:DIS Singapore and NAFA Centre for Lifelong Education (NAFA CLE) provides persons with disabilities the opportunity to pursue a top-up Certificate in Visual Arts. This five-month programme will help artists move one step closer towards establishing a career in the arts as it enables them to hone their skills and techniques in art creation. The signing of the partnership was witnessed by Guest-of-Honour, Ms. Linda de Mello, Director, National Arts Council. Read More

+ News Articles

Music notes are their voice

18 April 2022, Lianhe Zaobao

In life, autistic people have difficulty expressing themselves in ways that most people can understand. This often leads to them being misunderstood or withdrawing further into their own world. However, music may be a way to bridge this gap, enabling them to communicate their thoughts. Peter Sau, Head of Artistic Development and Performing Arts at ART:DIS, as well as other music educators weigh in on this topic, illustrating how music has the ability to help autistic children build self-confidence, form friendships, relate to others and learn life skills.

Lianhe Zaobao © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission
Chee Jun Hong, String Instructor of The Purple Symphony, teaching a group of young musicians with autism a piece of chamber music.

New arts space in Bukit Merah for people with disabilities

15 December 2021, The Straits Times

Very Special Arts Singapore revealed our new brand name, ART:DIS, in a ceremony attended by Minister Desmond Lee, the charity’s patron Professor Tommy Koh and 48 other distinguished guests. Our Executive Director, Maureen Goh, further announced three new initiatives to accompany our brand change. This includes the opening of a new arts centre in Bukit Merah, the launch of a new building block in our pathways and the beginning of new genres of classes for our Foundation level student.

The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission

40 years of work by late artist on display

25 August 2021, The Straits Times

A memorial exhibition for our professional artist and dear friend, the late Chng Seok Tin, is on show at The Arts House from 21–29 August. Titled Remembrance of a Friend, the over 60 artworks on display covered a range of mediums and spanned 40 years from 1975 till 2016. The curation of pieces saw many friends, students and family recalling fond memories of the tenacious printmaker. Professor Tommy Koh, our Patron and Founder, shared that Seok Tin was “a woman of talent, courage and accomplishments.”

The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission

The disabled and the arts

27 May 2021, The Straits Times
Our patron and founder, Professor Tommy Koh, writes an opinion piece about the humble beginnings of ART:DIS and the journey we’ve traversed since our establishment in 1993. We are proud of the numerous young talents and veteran artists who have stood tall on public platforms. But more can and must be done for the disabled community in Singapore, emphasised Professor Koh. “Public opinion towards the disabled has improved but is still sub-optimal… My dream is that, one day, all our disabled citizens will feel like first-class citizens,” he shared.
The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reprinted with permission

Gen Y: I am a blind performing artist

7 March 2021, TODAY

Our artist-in-training, Claire Teo, shares about her experience navigating society as a visually impaired artist. She swallowed the tokenism and double-standards until a chance meeting with Peter Sau, Head of ART:DIS(S)’s Performing Arts and Artistic Development. The veteran artist-educator taught her to understand her self-worth and to fight for her own rights. “From Peter, I have learnt that working with disabled artists requires building an authentic connection without any prior notions,” she shared. Moving forward, Claire wants to advocate for greater visibility of disabled artists and encourage her fellow peers to stand courageously.

Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards honours 16 awardees

3 December 2020, Channel News Asia

The Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards celebrates the achievements of persons with disabilities. In its second edition, one of the recipients of the ‘UBS Achievement’ award was our professional artist, Dr Azariah. Despite a hearing impairment, he is an accomplished pianist who is committed to advocating for greater inclusion and employing his talents to support communities. Speaking at the award ceremony, Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong said: “We want to show the world what our persons with disabilities can achieve when given the opportunity to prove themselves.”

President meets vulnerable groups in coronavirus fight

23 February 2020, The Straits Times

As part of the President’s Challenge, an annual fund-raiser for the less fortunate, President Halimah Yacob visited various social service agencies that assist vulnerable groups such as ART:DIS Singapore. At our Bedok centre, President Halimah Yacob interacted with students to learn more about their progress. For instance, student Clarabelle is now more confident and able to exercise her independence since taking up literary and art classes at ART:DIS. “We challenged her to try and do things on her own,” said Magali Finet, Programmes Manager at ART:DIS.

Artworks by special needs students on display at bus interchange

16 February 2019, Lianhe Zaobao

To commemorate the opening of the newly renovated Choa Chu Kang bus interchange, seven of our artists-in-training were commissioned to create paintings for the space’s interior. With the theme My Futuristic City, students Floyd Thien, Titus Choo, Joshua Tang, Ezra Chan, Tan Si Xue, Noah Tan and Mitchell Soh exercised their creativity. The launch was graced by Minister of Health Mr Gan Kim Yong, as well as students and parents who were all proud of the artworks on display.

The first lead character with Down’s Syndrome on local television

17 September 2018, Channel News Asia

Our artist-in-training, Timothy Lee, joins new local English drama Kin as a regular cast member. The long-form series made television history with its decision to include a character with special needs as a leading role. Timothy, who has Down’s Syndrome, will portray Handsome, the youngest son of a tau huay shop owner. As an actor who is very involved in theatre, Timothy nailed the part in just one audition. “I don’t get nervous because I enjoy acting. Mummy helps me revise my script many times,” he shared. On the tailcoats of beloved drama Tanglin, there is much anticipation for Kin, with viewers eager to see how complicated family relationships play out. 

Budding artists with special needs can enrol in certificate course

14 June 2018, The Straits Times

Our artists-in-training would be able to sharpen their artistic skills with a new top-up certificate by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. This partnership will see the first cohort of eight students commencing the programme in October. Aaron James Yap, who has autism, is one such student and his mother shared; “It will be a stepping stone for him in his art education.” Ms Linda de Mello, who is Director of Sector Development at the National Arts Council, said: “We have witnessed an encouraging shift in the arts scene towards embracing diversity. It is heartening to see our arts institution foster greater inclusivity.”

True Colours Festival is beautiful like a rainbow

24 March 2018, Bak Chor Mee Boy

ART:DIS Singapore organised the True Colours Festival with the support of The Nippon Foundation and UNESCO. It was Asia-Pacific’s largest festival for persons with disabilities, with over 10,000 people and 200 performers from 20 nations uniting to celebrate diversity. “This festival is more important than ever, emphasising the need to treat the disabled as simply differently-abled individuals,” said Richard of Bak Chor Mee Boy. He shared that the many activities, interactions and performances touched him in many unexpected ways, demonstrating how abilities are so much in abundance across the spectrum.

Illustrator who has autism wants to be top comic artist

15 October 2017, TODAY

Our artist-in-training Kenneth Lee is one of the beneficiaries of the TODAY enable fund, which helps to realise the potential of persons with disabilities through financial support. Kenneth’s dream is to be a top comic artist and he practices daily after working hours. A peek into his sketchbook reveals cityscapes and characters out of a Japanese science fiction anime. Kenneth, who has mild autism spectrum disorder said: “I like details and complex stuff. These unique things from the TV and internet inspire me to draw.” Looking ahead, Kenneth is hoping to create and produce his own comic book.

Art helps to calm these special needs kids

26 September 2016, The New Paper

Our annual art competition See What I See returns for its 14th edition to encourage young persons with disabilities to express themselves with art. Following a judging by a panel, 17 winning pieces were exhibited at Forum Shopping Mall’s atrium, and one of which was Alexandra Ming’s watercolour painting of corals. It won second prize in the youth category and her mom shared: “Painting helps Alexandra to calm down and release her frustration. When she draws in yellow, she’s happy. Black means she’s sad or angry.” Such communication methods have enabled Alexandra’s mother to better understand her daughter who has autism.

+ Media Releases

VSA(S) rebranded to ARTDIS Singapore

13 December 2021

Very Special Arts Singapore announced its new name and logo – ART:DS Singapore – in a launch ceremony with Minister Desmond Lee as guest-of-honour. The new look underscores our desire to be a bold advocate for inclusion of persons with disabilities, and further renews our commitment to empowering them through the arts. By focusing on innovation, digitalisation, holistic pathways and collaboration between mainstream and disabled communities, the new name ensures our pivot to a sustainable future as a leader in the arts and disability sector. Read More

VSA(S) presents exhibition by Chng Seok Tin

14 January 2019

In conjunction with the Singapore Art Week, ART:DIS Singapore is proud to present renowned local artist Chng Seok Tin’s solo exhibition MY JOURNEY – Feel the Hope, Embrace The Shine. It will showcase the artists’ multidisciplinary artworks that were never exhibited before. Opening on 15 January and till 21 January, this exhibition includes several printmaking workshops and marks Chng Seok Tin’s 25th year of working with the charity to raise the profile of disabled artists in Singapore. Read More

Art winner brings Singapore’s history to life

19 September 2018

ART:DIS Singapore announce its 16th instalment of See What I See, an annual art competition. This year’s theme is Journey and received 639 submissions from 34 schools and related organisations. Ms Serene Sng, one of the participants, won the top prize in the Young Adult Category. Her artwork was heavily inspired by Singapore’s early history. Her award-winning artwork entitled “Singapore Journey” tells the audience a story of Singapore’s pre-colonial history. Read More

ART:DIS mark 25th anniversary with inclusive musical

23 August 2018

To mark 25 years of its commitment in offering access and opportunities for people with disabilities through the arts, ART:DIS Singapore will present its first-ever inclusive musical Free My Music, as part of its annual Welcome to My World. Directed by Artistic Director R Chandran, the founder of ACT 3 Theatrics, audiences can expect an extravaganza featuring numerous talented artists such as Danial Bawthan,  Redeafination, Jazz Association Singapore, Adelyn Koh, Maya Dance Theatre and more. Read More

Artists with disabilities gets certified by NAFA

14 June 2018

A milestone partnership between ART:DIS Singapore and NAFA Centre for Lifelong Education (NAFA CLE) provides persons with disabilities the opportunity to pursue a top-up Certificate in Visual Arts. This five-month programme will help artists move one step closer towards establishing a career in the arts as it enables them to hone their skills and techniques in art creation. The signing of the partnership was witnessed by Guest-of-Honour, Ms. Linda de Mello, Director, National Arts Council. Read More