BY LIM LEE LEE
What started as a request from a friend in the United Kingdom turned out to be a beautiful partnership between friends that leads to a slew of creation in 2021 and beyond.
How Did It All Begin?
One day in June 2020, I received an email from Ms Zoe Partington telling me she was collaborating with Disabled artists from the US, Australia, Brazil, and Japan to produce a programme to be livestreamed on 3 December—International Day for Disabled People and wanted a contribution from Singapore. It would be called “Thrive Aid”. The aim of this event was to bring hope ans be a source of strength to the international community. Then, the pandemic was so bad that doctors had to play God—Elderly and Disabled people and those working in nursing homes and residential care institutions make up over 70% of the deaths. We hear reports of disabled people being left to die as doctors make life or death choices on who gets treatment. Internationally, surveys have shown that more than two-thirds of Covid19 related deaths in the UK have been with people with a disability reported by the BBC.). I was hesitant at first because it wasn’t easy to find disabled artists as we were just coming out of circuit breaker, secondly, We don’t have many disabled artists who are trained and equipped but most crucial of all, I did not have the money to pay anyone even though I wished. After discussing with Stephanie Fam and Victor Tan, I said yes without any idea of what I was getting myself into.
Nevertheless, I attended the monthly meetings via Zoom and eventually roped in Joanne Tay as the producer for the Singapore contribution. Every country involved was undergoing different phases of lockdown due to the pandemic. Thus, it was difficult to raise funds as people were losing jobs and homes in some instances, let alone pulling together funds from various countries to do just that.
Zoe updated the group that the Arts Council (England) was giving her a grant of £5,000 to fund 10 UK disabled artist for this programme with the rest of us still clueless of whether we should find funds or invite the artists to volunteer.
Having attended 2 meetings, Jo suggested that we should try to apply for grant from the National Arts Council and see what amount or any would be granted to us. After all, I was a blind artist who stopped involvement with the theatre in October 2018. As I was part of the Harmony Community Choir, brought this up to YongLun who was supportive. What is there to lose?
You cannot imagine our joy when I received the email that we’d be awarded the maximum amount–$20,000. Since it was going to be a digital presentation, I spoke to Michael Chua who did not hesitate but instead said, “Let’s go, let’s rock” without knowing what he was getting into. YongLun then recommended the lauded Peggy Ferroa as director hence, the creation of an inclusive 3-segment docudrama with soundscape by the Harmony Community Choir that binds the 3 monologues together–Perspectives.
Thankfully, one of the segments “When Paths Cross” premiered on Thrive Aid platform across 3 time zones (Australia, UK and the US) which garnered a viewership of about 5,000 on 3 December 2020, International Day for Disabled People. At this juncture, Thanks to The behind the scene heroes of Joanne Tay, Peggy Ferroa and Tan Beng Tian (Audio describer/captioner) and Vincent Lim for a fantastic job.
Gateway Theatre became our venue partner for both filming and screening. We had our international premiere on 25 March 2021. The onsite and livestreamed event was viewed by more than 140 audiences which included the blind, Deaf and Deaf-blind from Singapore to as far as UK and Germany, the first for the team. Special Thanks to Peatix for hosting the virtual event and Upside down Media for the technical personnel etc and Equal Dreams for providing the interpretation and notetaking services, not forgetting the members of Harmony Community Choir who sang and played so beautifully. Perspectives is now travelling internationally, first in George Town Festival in July and more to go.
All these have not been possible without the behind the scene hero—Vincent Lim who did a wonderful editing job that garnered rave reviews from those who watched it.
This film was part of #SgCultureAnywhere. My thanks to the National Arts Council for the funding and belief that we can create good work to bring hope to the hopeless, strength, solidarity and resilience to those in need, hence the birth of Collective Perspectives, a social enterprise with the objectives of equipping, enabling and empowering disabled artist to pursue their dreams, and aim for the stars. After all, every creation and invention starts with a dream and the sky is the limit. What a beautiful partnership.