Discovering passion for the arts

Discovering a hidden passion for learning can be a transformative experience. Often, people may be too preoccupied with their jobs or feel content with their current pursuits to seek out new topics and experiences. However, everything changes when they stumble upon something meaningful that can spark their curiosity and allows them to gain a deeper understanding of themselves.

Mr Goh Leng Seng, 65, with his wife Mdm Lee Beng Guat, 65, at “The Spirit of Ghim Moh” showcase for “Small Talks” programme.

Such is the case with Mr Goh Leng Seng, aged 65, who had been a Kway Chap vendor for the past 40 years. Working 16 hours a day and 6 days a week didn’t leave him much time to do anything else. As such, his retirement finally allowed him to join LB’s Ghim Moh AAC, where he chanced upon “Small Talks” that was ongoing at the time.

“Small Talks” was an arts programme that culminated all participating seniors’ life stories, including their struggles and aspirations, how they arrived at Ghim Moh and gradually developed a community that supports one another. It was part of the Community Arts Engagement Programme, an initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC) in collaboration with Lions Befrienders (LB) and produced by InArts Productions to promote our senior’s creative development and social connectedness.

Divided into groups, our seniors are invited to share their stories and perform them freely.

The programme spanned a duration of 3 months, with 12 activity sessions before the final showcase. The first few sessions comprised games and some group exercises. From the 4th session,  the participating seniors are divided into different groups to share their stories and develop a short skit with them. They also brought personal items that represented their stories. For instance, Mr Goh’s item was a newspaper article that featured his Kway Chap store. Other items included their children’s old toys, old photographs and more. On the 10th session, our seniors were given the final scripts and rehearsed for 2 more sessions before the final showcase performance.

Script-in-hand, our seniors start rehearsing for the final performance with Ms Jalyn Han, Lead Artist, InArts Productions.

Mr Goh said, “I really must thank Ms Han (the Lead Artist). We have no background or experience in performing at all. She is very patient and does not restrict how we perform. That’s how the performance became very realistic. It’s all based on our life experiences, which makes re-enacting them feel more natural. This also makes it more fun to learn and we enjoyed every session.”

“The Spirit of Ghim Moh” showcase and Post-Activity Brief

To conclude this programme, our seniors took to the stage for the final showcase titled “The Spirit of Ghim Moh”, which combined their life stories with everything they experienced during the past 12 activity sessions. These experiences were combined into a skit that required them to re-enact their stories, introduce their personal items and share their narratives to around 100 live audiences which included members from NAC, LB, InArts Productions and the seniors’ family and friends. After the performance, there was also a post-activity brief where the seniors were invited to provide feedback and share their thoughts about the programme.

When asked about how he felt during the showcase, Mr Goh said, “I was extremely nervous for the final performance. We only had so little time to rehearse and memorise our lines. Even the trial performance right before the showcase wasn’t satisfactory. That’s why it was quite surprising that the final performance was a success and I’m very proud of it.”

Group photo of participating seniors from LB Ghim Moh AAC and the producers of InArts Collective.

Through weeks of hard work and determination, our seniors of LB Ghim Moh AAC re-enacted their life stories and pulled off a spectacular performance. Whether it’s a new language, a musical instrument, or a scientific concept, the joy of learning can open up new possibilities and lead to a more fulfilling life.

“It’s good that we can have such activities occasionally. It provides a new experience that enables us to learn more things, broaden our perspectives, interact with more people differently and simply add more fun to our lives”, said Mr Goh.

About Community Arts Engagement Programme

The Community Arts Engagement Programme is an initiative by the National Arts Council in collaboration with Lions Befrienders. It aims to engage seniors with the arts by empowering them to apply their own life experiences to the art-making process and encourage seniors to express themselves creatively, deepen family bonds and form new social connections through a series of interconnected arts activities.

Click here to watch the full video of this programme.


We hope that these stories would inspire you to reach out and touch the lives of others.

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