Library / Field Studies

Community Inspirations Podcast: ArtsWok Reflects

Library / Field Studies

Community Inspirations Podcast: ArtsWok Reflects

Produced and Hosted By Kirin Heng
Edited by Hilda Teo and Kirin Heng

6 March 2020

It’s been 8 years since we first set out on this meaningful journey creatively developing communities. To mark this occasion, we’ve put together a podcast for our new series Community Inspirations, in which we bring to you tidbits of insight about our field, in various formats. 

Join us for this inaugural podcast episode in which Charlene Rajendran and Justin Lee, our Board Members, join our Co-Founder and Executive Director Ngiam Su-Lin to have a conversation about the past, reflections on the present and their vision for the future of arts-based community development.

How did arts-based community development come to be an important part of both the fields of arts and policy in Singapore? Why do artists play an important role in our landscape, both physical and abstract? How is interdisciplinarity a myth, and how do we dismantle it through intermediary work? This, and other interesting questions, are explored…

Click play to discover them with us! 

Here are some time-stamps to guide your listening:

0:00 – 1:35 Intro

2:04 – 8:48 How do Su-Lin, Justin and Charlene feel ArtsWok has transformed since it was founded?

8:48 – 14:22 How has (community) arts in Singapore also evolved alongside the work of ArtsWok?

14:22 – 20:53 How does our work as an intermediary facilitate the exchange of knowledge between different fields?

20:53 – 29:24 Given our Board’s different backgrounds, how have they been able to discover different kinds of knowledge in working with ArtsWok?

29:24 – 34:50 What are our hopes for the future of ArtsWok?

34:51 – 35:55 Ending credits

An especial thanks to Charlene Rajendran and Justin Lee for taking the time to sit down with Ngiam Su-Lin and Kirin Heng for this chat, and Justin for lending us his office space! 

For captioned videos, check out our Instagram and Facebook pages! 

The Institute of Policy Studies recently published a case study on our work. Read here! 

About Dr. Charlene Rajendran

Board Member, ArtsWok Collaborative

Dr. Charlene Rajendran is a Malaysian theatre educator, researcher and practitioner, currently based at the National Institute of Education – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She researches issues of identity and culture in urban multicultural contexts, where questions of difference pertain. Her work also involves developing arts-based dialogic pedagogies that draw on contextually-based knowledges to deepen critical and aesthetic thinking. This includes examining pedagogies of play in arts education, and developing conversational approaches to teaching theatre as an integration of theory and practice. She has been involved as director, performer, writer and dramaturg in a range of performance projects.

About Dr. Justin Lee

Board Chair, ArtsWok Collaborative

Dr. Justin Lee is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies. He is interested in issues related to disability, community development and social services. He has created a wiki platform that allows mass participation in the mapping of social needs ( and is currently co-leading the design of a gamified volunteer matching platform ( He has a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

About Ngiam Su-Lin

Co-Founder and Executive Director, ArtsWok Collaborative

Su-Lin has been active in the Singapore arts scene for close to two decades, specifically in the areas of education, community, and company management. She has produced community theatre and festivals in collaboration with the public, people and private sectors, and worked with numerous social service organisations to incorporate drama into their programmes. She has a double degree in theatre and psychology from the National University of Singapore and an MA in Drama-in-Education from Queensland University of Technology. She is also a trained counsellor and served briefly as a full-time pastor before returning to the arts. She believes that being human and fully alive is to be in life-giving relationships with one’s self, and others, in community.