The Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) is a national school event, organised by the Ministry of Education, which comprises the SYF Art Exhibition and the SYF Arts Presentation. While the SYF Art Exhibition is an annual showcase of art pieces both online and offline by young talents ranging from the Primary level to the Tertiary level, most have their eyes set on the highly-regarded biennial SYF Arts Presentation. In essence, the Arts Presentation is where students belonging to the performing arts groups of Band, Chinese Orchestra, Choir, Dance, Drama, and Instrumental Ensemble, can perform publicly and be awarded with Certificates of Distinction, Accomplishment and Commendation by expert adjudicators. Regrettably, the heart-wrenching call to cancel this year’s prestigious Art Presentation in favour of a modified, scaled-down yet activity-packed SYFgoesOnline! virtual arts festival had to be made in view of the worrying COVID-19 situation in Singapore.
Hence, this raises the question: should this change be perceived as a Loss of Opportunity, or a Celebration of Resilience?
A Loss of Opportunity
To many students, the SYF is seen to be a golden opportunity to boost their portfolios by branding them with that coveted ‘Distinction’. It is the ultimate signifier of their tireless dedication to and contribution in the countless hours of recitals involved. More importantly, it could very well be the make-or-break factor in deciding how easily one could pursue their desired specialised educational and career paths and chase their dreams. Grappling with intense competition, it is only natural that students would wish to stand out. As such, the loss of the chance to perform at the SYF Arts Presentation could unfortunately be a huge blow to some students.
It can be also heartbreaking to accept the fact that nearly all preparation work for the actual physical SYF Arts Presentation would virtually go down the drain. In fact, along with this comes the loss in irreplaceable experience in working in an ensemble. Unity, coordination, mutual understanding and group support are all key components strictly required for an ensemble to function well – and that is what it takes to deliver a show-stopping live performance! And in a live performance, there exists certain unique experiences that can be used as a stepping stone to hone priceless skills and build one’s character: courage and confidence in one’s self can be developed to overcome stage-fright, while the ability to swiftly and calmly respond to the unexpected in time-sensitive situations can be sharpened.
Last but not the least, the SYF and all its associated practice rehearsals are undeniably platforms to form stronger bonds and forge new friendships and connections. At the SYF Arts Presentation where musicians of different backgrounds from different schools are gathered together in close proximity, the cross-pollination of ideas and inspirations is facilitated and so much is gained.
A Celebration of Resilience
In spite of the necessary changes that had to be made for this year’s SYF, the innovatively-devised SYFgoesOnline! is truly a brilliant display of the versatility of various artistic forms of expressions. It accurately captures the spirit of how art can evolve and is not limited to one medium of expression, and how young souls brimming with talent are able to rise to the occasion. To be fair, the SYFgoesOnline! virtual arts festival is really a commendable, worthy alternative to the usual SYF that we know.
One of the strands of the SYFgoesOnline! virtual arts festival is called The Youth Station Project and it could really be seen as a miniature SYF Arts Presentation exclusively for songwriting. Similar to the judging process for the Arts Presentation, students are able to put their heart and soul into writing songs and submit their original creations to industry professionals for review and guidance to shape and fine-tune their talent. Deserving songs would then be awarded an Honourable Mention on various social media pages. Imagine that in your portfolio!
The SYFgoesOnline! virtual arts festival is not without collaborative opportunities for the exchange of creative ideas and the creation of new relationships either. The Artist & Technology: The Online Art Exhibition strand of SYFgoesOnline! Offers side activities where like-minded students and art practitioners can come together to co-create stunning and inventive artworks.
Regardless of the unpredictable and unusual challenges that can crop up, we have to stay on our toes, keep abreast with developments and maximise what we are able to get out of the moment. While some things are indubitably lost, let us cherish the tremendous effort that has been put in to make the SYF experience the best as it can be. FamilyTutor will see you again in SYF2021!
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