Lineup of ArtsWok mascots in order of bridging, listening, advocating, developing, researching, and a cat-like animal with a wok-shaped head. Illustration Credit - Anngee Neo

Team

Meet Team ArtsWok. Each of us has a personal stake in the vision of ArtsWok Collaborative:
hear the stories of our ArtsWok voyages here.

Staff

Portrait of Ngiam Su-Lin

NGIAM SU-LIN

Co-Founder | Executive Director

Su-Lin has been active in the Singapore arts scene for more than two decades, specifically in the areas of education, community, creative producing, and interdisciplinary collaborations. She has worked with various arts organisations before co-founding ArtsWok in 2013.

Su-Lin produces community theatre and festivals in collaboration with the public, people and private sectors, and has worked with numerous schools, social service, community and health organisations to incorporate arts processes and approaches into their programmes, including the development and writing of training toolkits. She also develops and facilitates capability development programmes and initiatives on arts-based community development.

A theatre studies and psychology graduate, she also holds a Master of Arts degree in Research (Drama-in-Education) and two other post-graduate degrees in Counselling and Theological Studies, respectively.

“Co-founding and managing ArtsWok has been such an adventure and meaningful journey. It is a deeply felt, humanistic and spiritual response to the desire to create, and bridge communities, in order for all of us to have opportunities to relate authentically, to fulfil our potential, and co-create the society in which we exist. Tackling thorny social issues, and collaborations can be challenging and requires time but is essential if we want real change, if we want different ways of being and relating. The arts provide meaningful and powerful ways to ask critical questions, to reveal truths, to generate and deepen relationships, and to imagine, rehearse and create new realities. I am so grateful for this space ArtsWok occupies to experiment, play hard, collaborate and contribute towards community development in Singapore.”
Su-Lin
Portrait of Seah Sze Yunn

SEAH SZE YUNN

Director, Strategy and Capability Development

Sze Yunn is a design practitioner and researcher. In her 20 years of experience, she has brought her design perspective to diverse areas of work, such as co-curricular learning, visual arts, branding, and marketing. Her research interests include the management of design processes and collaborative practices. Prior to joining ArtsWok, she was engaged in the strategic design and development of co-curricular learning at Singapore Management University. In 2007, she co-founded Perception3, an interdisciplinary art duo that produces artistic projects and arts-based learning experiences. She is a recipient of the LASALLE Scholarship for MA Studies and holds an MA in Design, with Distinction, from Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as a degree in advertising from RMIT University.

“I first came to know of ArtsWok back in 2017 at a conference presentation, and later became acquainted with the Both Sides, Now project through their public programmes. While my encounters with ArtsWok were brief, they impressed me with their arts-based approach towards community engagement and development. As someone who is a part of an art duo that creates art installations in public spaces, I have an interest in observing and articulating how artistic processes and interventions can be well-suited and valuable to engage communities meaningfully, to imagine and construct shared narratives of how we live together, and to recognise the ripple effect of our individual actions.”
Sze Yunn
Portrait of Angie Cheong

ANGIE CHEONG

Programme Manager

Angie has worked in the government and community sector for more than 15 years which includes Ministry of Community Development (now known as Ministry of Social and Family Development), Central Singapore Community Development Council and the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership (now subsumed under National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre). Trained in social work & theatre studies, she is curious to see the impact when arts, community and social work intersect. This curiosity started her volunteering journey with Both Sides, Now in 2014. She has been Volunteer Manager for the project since 2017, before eventually joining ArtsWok as a staff member. She has also previously co-facilitated several design thinking projects in the government and social service sector.

“I saw a volunteer call for Both Sides, Now in 2014 and was immediately intrigued to find out more about the project. Firstly because of the nature of the topic of end-of-life, and secondly I was curious about how this could be explored in a palatable way through an arts-based approach. The intermediary place that ArtsWok occupies resonated with me instantly! “That’s what I have always wanted to explore as a job!” I thought. The opportunity came when both Su-Lin and Huey asked whether I was keen to consider a contract position as a volunteer manager of Both Sides, Now in 2016. And eventually, when a position came up, I decided to join the ArtsWok team in 2018.

Arts-based community development work is still relatively nascent in Singapore, despite many success stories in other countries. This keeps me motivated in this field – to unearth and share this exploratory, experimental, co-creating work with the community.”

Angie
Portrait photo of Durrah Qistina

DURRAH QISTINA

Programme Executive

Durrah holds a BA (Hons) in Arts Management from Goldsmiths, University of London. Trained in visual arts and arts management, Durrah believes in the significance of the arts in communicating, engaging and reaching out to underserved communities. With her skills and knowledge in arts management, she aims to advocate for the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change and for creating inclusive spaces. As part of her art collective NAYA, Durrah served as an artist-in-residence at The Artground, to create an immersive play space for babies and young children.

“I first came to learn of ArtsWok through Both Sides, Now. It inspired me to take up the opportunity to embark on a traineeship with them. The meaningful experiences I gained along the way motivated me to continue on this journey with the team. I’m hopeful for the future of arts-based community development! And look forward to co-creating more projects which empower communities and strive for social change.”

Durrah

Board of Directors

Portrait of Dr. Justin Lee

DR. JUSTIN LEE

Chairperson

Dr. Justin Lee is Senior Research Fellow at Policy Lab, Institute of Policy Studies. Given his interest in community development, mutual aid and worker-owned/platform co-operatives, Justin runs policy experiments to test ideas such as interest-free loans to the community, time banking and community circles. He has created a wiki platform that allows mass participation in the mapping of social needs and co-founded a skilled volunteer matching platform, and serves on the Board of Trampolene as well as the Research Committees of Singapore Children’s Society and SINDA. He has a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I didn’t know much about the arts, much less arts-based community development before I signed up for a Greenhouse Session simply because it sounded interesting. That’s when I first got to meet the dynamic duo Su-Lin and Huey, the co-founders of ArtsWok. The first thing I realised about ArtsWok is that when they facilitate a dialogue, they really facilitate. Subsequently I helped with training and kept attending ArtsWok productions until they had to invite me to the board. What I learned along the way is that the artful building of communities can make a lot of difference. Cheers to all socially engaged artists!”
Justin
Portrait of Bruce Liew

BRUCE LIEW

 Board Member | Treasurer

Bruce Liew is the Director of Sector Manpower & Leadership Development in the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). With a vision of a sector that constantly seeks ways to deliver social services more effectively, he helps agencies leverage technology and innovation, develop organisational capabilities, and harness the strengths of the community to deliver better outcomes for service users. Prior to NCSS, he spent more than a decade launching digital businesses in a Silicon Valley start-up and various multinational companies. Bruce is a certified business continuity expert and meditation guide. Evidently, he plans for the worst and chants for the best.

“ArtsWok’s approach of combining the ‘relational approach’ of community development with a ‘creative approach’ unique to the arts resonates with me, as artistic experiences can catalyse the organic and often unpredictable development of communal relationships and capabilities. It inspires me to do more in this niche and relatively nascent field.”

Bruce
Portrait of Simon Siah

SIMON SIAH

Board Member

Simon is the founder of Qurious Consulting, a multi-disciplinary innovation training and consultancy firm specialising in assisting organisations in developing positive innovation capabilities. He also serves as an Innovation Advisor to Y-Lab, an innovation lab at the National Gallery Singapore that bridges the realms of technology and art to enhance the art experience, visitor engagement, and the work environment for museum professionals.

“I was first introduced to ArtWok’s work through Both Sides, Now. It piqued my interest in understanding how art can serve as a catalyst for fostering discussions on sensitive topics, such as coping with death. The latter is a subject that grows in significance as we age and confront the reality of our mortality. Art offers a non-threatening and expressive avenue for individuals to convey their emotions and connect with others who share similar experiences. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to learn and actively participate in a meaningful cause, utilising art as a tool for promoting positive change and fostering connections within our community.”

Simon
Portrait of Ranganayaki Thangavelu

RANGANAYAKI THANGAVELU

Board Member

Ranga is at Beyond Social Services and has been in the charity sector for more than 20 years. She is an accredited Social Worker and Community Development practitioner, especially in the rental housing neighbourhoods in Singapore. She is a former journalist and feature writer and is passionate about amplifying the voices of the marginalised. Ranga is also an adjunct lecturer in Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam in Germany and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). She sits on the Board of Compassion Fund Ltd, and The Constellation, an international network of practitioners focused on community led change. Ranga holds a Master of Social Work from SUSS and Master of Mass Communications from Nanyang Technological University. She hopes to serve ArtsWok through her experience in leadership in the non-profit sector and her deep interest in community competence.

“I got to work closely with Su-Lin and the team at ArtsWok in 2019 when we collaborated on a community theatre performance at the M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival focusing on poverty and inequality. At every stage of the process, ArtsWok’s professionalism and passion was apparent, and they fully supported our team and youth through the staging of The Block Party at the Esplanade. I am familiar with the Community Theatre process when we stage in the neighbourhoods, but it was a whole new experience of four shows in three days in a theatre. The opportunity gave a boost to the youth and the whole team, and no one can forget the life changing experience. I look forward to strengthening the link between Asset-Based Community Development and Arts-Based Community Development.”

Ranga