“Prism” was the theme for this year’s SMU Arts Festival, and it was a theme befitting this year’s offering. Over two weeks in September 2015, Arts Fest (as we like to call it) showcased brilliant performances from the full spectrum of arts clubs here at SMU. Many of these performances and workshops were joint productions between two or more clubs at SMU, collaborating to create something new, fresh and memorable.

What was it like organising an arts festival for 25 clubs– each with their own unique flavour of the arts? How do you encourage and foster a spirit of collaboration? We catch up with Joy Aw, the chairperson of Arts Fest 2015, and her team to find out more about what it was like.

Ian Long (the Marketing Director for Arts Fest 2015 and the Arts & Cultural Fraternity): We wanted to push boundaries and get our clubs to explore new areas of their art forms, so we got our clubs to collaborate for joint productions.

Sound Reel was one such collaboration. It brought together four musical clubs at SMU (Symphonia, Chinese Orchestra, Guitarissimo and Ivory Keys) for a joint exhibition along the SMU Concourse. Passers-by could learn more about the different instruments across all the four clubs, and got to try them out as well.

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The festival also featured a giant six-piece mural, where anyone could join in and add to the final piece. Led by the Band of Doodlers, this was an immersive piece of street art that was launched during the festival’s opening.

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Joy introducing the festival mural, a collaborative art piece, to President Arnoud.

FunkBreakMix was the first-ever collaboration between Eurhythmnix and Funk Movement, the two hiphop dance clubs in school. It also featured the SMU Breakers, a team of passionate breakdancers or B-boys, who are part of the larger Eurhythmnix family. The audience was treated to an exciting performance, one that mixed many flavours of hiphop dance together, as well as a series of dance mini-workshops.

Waltz. That’s ballroom dancing. Tango. Surely, latin ballroom. How about Jive or the Foxtrot? Bailando was another first for SMU, with Ballare (ballroom dance) and Ardiente (latin ballroom) coming together for a joint workshop. The participants got to learn both styles of dance, and had a final performance featuring both dance clubs to top it off.

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What was it like organising such a huge festival?

Diversity is our team’s biggest strength.

Joy: We had quieter ones who would burst out with sudden words of wisdom, and more vocal ones who would make the discussion more lively. We were discussing the possible festival themes when all of a sudden, our usually soft-soften Visual Arts Director, Vivienne gave us the idea of “Prism”. It was a very different perspective from what we were thinking of before, and was something really fresh.

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Joy, Ian and Rachel Tan (the Workshops Director for Arts Fest 2015 and ACF President), and members of the ACF family

Joy: Working closely with Jing Qin, the Arts Fest vice-chairperson, I would say both our leadership styles complemented each other very well. I’m more people-based where I believe you have to build relationships first, in order to lead well. Jing Qin, being more task-oriented, prefers to drive straight down to the task.

Between the two of us, we took care of both crucial aspects — relationships and tasks.
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Speaking to the performers and audience alike, it’s clear that we all enjoyed the collaboration and creativity that came out from Arts Fest 2015. Working with a fellow club, especially if the other club is in a different area of the arts, is a great way to spark off new ideas. How can we combine visual arts and dance in an exciting, immersive way? How about experience music, film and literature in a different form? These are all ideas for 2016.

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Joy: We’d love for next year’s team to make Arts Fest even bigger, with a stronger presence, that would impact the whole school population, and share our love for the arts!

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SMU Arts Festival 2015 is proudly brought to you by SMU Arts and Cultural Fraternity and SMU Office of Student Life. The festival serves as a platform for our arts clubs and fellow arts enthusiasts from all walks of life to experience, appreciate and interpret art, to strengthen the ties between members of the arts fraternity as well as establish opportunities to work with partners and the community.

Expect quirky art exhibitions, exhilarating dance performances and hands-on workshops from SMU’s arts and culture clubs, as well as showcases by local artists and performing arts groups. Come discover the different facets of art, people and life right here in the heart of town.

SMU Arts Fest 2016, here we come!

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU