Why We Exist
While it is important that we put bread to the table, man does not live by bread alone. Our nation would be soul-less without an appreciation of arts and culture.”
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (2019)
The Role of Arts
The arts already exist in every aspect of our lives, work and play. We turn to the arts (e.g. movies, music, books, fashion, theatre, etc) not only for entertainment but as a means to cope with everyday stresses and to inspire our intuitive selves. The arts are essential for our psychological and spiritual well-being.
The Arts Fulfils Basic Human Needs
Psychologist Dr William Glasser has identified 5 basic human needs that can shape our total well-being. Community Arts can help to fulfil those needs as such:
Survival: More than just fulfilling physiological needs (i.e. food, shelter and safety), our strong desire to engage in this struggle to ensure longevity, motivates us to do whatever it takes to ensure we go beyond survival to security. In this 21st century, part of that strategy includes our ability to get along with each other. Engaging in Community Arts can help strengthen interpersonal bonds as we learn to navigate and work with each other to create expressions of our collective selves.
Love & Belonging: Humans are social creatures that need relationships, social connections, to give and receive love, and to feel part of a group. A community that comes together to create a piece of art can reaffirm and manifest those connections in an aesthetic tangible form.
Power: Our need for power has got a lot to do with our sense of self-worth, validation, agency and competency. The subjectivity and ambiguity of the arts would mean that there will be no wrongs. Every authentic expression of truths, imagination and creativity is valid. Community arts is then empowering because it provides the agency to create.
Freedom: We also need independence, autonomy, choices and control over our lives so as to achieve a healthy well-being. The arts provide that freedom of self-expression. Community arts allow for that freedom to be explored and achieved together.
Fun: The need for fun is the need to find pleasure, to play and to laugh. There is no doubt that the arts are fun activities that we engage in to de-stress. Other than being a fun activity to do as a group, the participation in community arts allows for the projection of our hopes and dreams in the artwork itself. It allows us to learn more about ourselves, as well as the people around us and our environment.
The Arts supports Well-Being: Healthy, Balanced and Fulfilling
Unlike Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, there is no hierarchy in Glasser’s theory of the 5 human basic needs. We need to work on all 5 in order to achieve a healthy, balanced and fulfilling well-being. And community arts can help to achieve that.
A Nation of Cultured and Gracious People
Singapore’s vision for 2025 is to be “a nation of cultured and gracious people, at home with our heritage, proud of our Singaporean identity” by making arts and culture an integral part of everyone’s lives, everywhere, every day. (The Report of the Arts and Culture Strategic Review, 2012)
In line with this vision, the Singapore Community Arts Network (sgCAN) aims to be the social building platform that is at the heart of the connection in the community arts ecosystem here; where everyone everywhere can connect with anyone anywhere through and with the arts every day.
Everyone has something valuable to contribute to society.
Everyone is essentially creative.
Everyone is a community artist.