Mar 20, 2015

Art in your HeARTland


When people mention art performances, what comes to mind? 

If you think posh, arty-farty or even chichi shows, then think again. Enjoying an enriching arts experience with the family need not be confined to theatres and most importantly, they can be readily accessible for everyone right at their heartland doorstep - and FREE at that!

Arts for all is an initiative by National Arts Council to promote self-expression, creativity and bonding through the arts by bringing it where people live, work and play. Under this initiative, the Arts in Your Neighbourhood programme features a series of free and enjoyable arts activities by established artists and arts groups, at various parts of the island right at where you stay.

Precisely because the performances are held free in open areas, with curious onlookers wandering in and out of the performing area, all of the curated performances comprise of interactive elements to pique the interests of passer-bys.

One such performance was 'A Prince’s Journey' which I brought the monkies to watch at Nee Soon East Courtyard last weekend.

Presented by Ding Yi Music Company, 'A Prince's Journey' is inspired by the Song Dynasty painting of a river during the Qing Ming Festival and narrates the exciting adventure of a young prince who escapes from the palace in search of freedom, only to be led back to the palace with a new passion for the things he has taken for granted all his life.

The unique thing about the performance was it was not just a theatre show. Instead, it was a multi-faceted one which combines the live elements of animation and theatre, coupled with stirring Chinese music.

I loved how the performance incorporated a short segment where the various Chinese Orchestra music instruments were introduced to the audience. Most kids, if not all, will not have heard of a pipa, yangqin or ruan - let alone know how they sound like. But thanks to the performance, I think the kids (even me!) have a better understanding of chinese chamber music.

Undoubtedly, the most fun part of the show was when the imperial troops were hunting for the prince which saw them running through the audience and asking the children for directions.

But like all stories, everyone lived happily ever after of course.

Before the show, I suspected that the arts element of the performances could have been dumbed down as they are made accessible to the masses but I was happy to be proven wrong.

Playing Chinese orchestral music in the heartlands may not be mainstream but the way everything was blended together was definitely refreshing. Hey, if the kids at the performance did not find it boring, I think it is testament enough.

As an added bonus, kids were allowed upstage for a brief moment to catch a glimpse of the music instruments used in the performance.

Oh and if you are down for any of the Arts In Your Neighbourhood shows, be sure to pick up your free badges and this free activity card!

Complete the activity card and submit it to any of the National Arts Council staff on-site to redeem an exclusive Arts in Your Neighbourhood collectible!

'A Prince's Journey' may have ended its run but there are plenty of other free shows to catch over the next 2 weekends. Join award-winning storyteller, Roger Jenkins as he take you and your children on a journey through a forest to a village to an ocean (with a lil' help from the magic of craft and storytelling, of course) at Siglap South Community Centre tomorrow at 4pm!

Below are some of the more family-friendly performances during the 22/23 and 28/29 March weekends:

For the full Arts In Your Neighbourhood programme line-up, visit

Better yet, follow Arts For All's Facebook page at and instagram account (@artsforallsg) to stay updated on the latest happenings of upcoming events and shows!

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