SINGAPORE – The COVID-19 pandemic has an extreme and devastating impact across every sector and industry and is especially destructive for People With Disabilities (PWDs). Suffering from the lack of job opportunities, PWDs in the performing field see their income dropped to zero with the island-wide lockdown in the past few months.
Yahoo Singapore SEA reached out to Ron Tan, founder of Inclusive Arts movement, and Danial Bawthan, widely known by his moniker Wheelsmith, a Singapore-based music producer and rapper, on their challenges arising from the pandemic as PWDs and their upcoming home-based music video.
An 80% deaf individual, Tan found his plans for the community pushed back indefinitely due to the pandemic.
“Without being paid for performances or gigs, we have to explore other ways of keeping the show going. We had our plans and goals laid out for 2020, including the launch of our corporate workshop, digital content and our concert. Without performances, we were forced to adapt and push back certain goals.”
The thought is echoed by Wheelsmith, a rapper-songwriter-producer who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of four. “COVID-19 has affected me with my income (performing, projects and releasing music) but apart from that, it too has kept me away from being able to socialise, as I believe it is a part of human nature.”
With morale among the PWDs’ community low, Ron is making full use of his time to “re-think, network and build knowledge for myself for the better good of this social enterprise.”
Curating digital content for performing artists to create social awareness on how the PWDs are differently-abled and talented, Tan’s community, Inclusive Arts Movement (I.AM), also provides performances for various events and companies. Shining a spotlight on PWDs’ struggles and resilience during the pandemic, Tan started a social initiative to showcase how individuals like him are differently-abled and capable through the performing arts.
Supported with funds from oscar@sg, Tan, together with performers from I.AM will debut a music video that showcases PWDs performing to a medley of ‘This Is Me’ from the movie, The Greatest Showman and ‘How Far I'll Go’ from the animated movie, Moana.
Sharing that the performers each chose two of their favourite songs and the team came together to decide how to make a medley out of the top chosen songs, Tan let on that this is an opportunity “to visualise how it would be like if we were to curate more digital content like this in the future.”
Filmed during the circuit breaker, Tan and his team tried their best to guide the performers on how to best take their videos at the comfort of their homes. Rather than resulting in a stressful event for the performers, the team ensures that the PWDs involved enjoyed the process of their music video creation.
The oscar@sg fund, launched by Temasek Trust, seeks to support ground-up initiatives that respond to community needs in Singapore as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We applied for the oscar@sg grant and received support and funding for this project. The committee believes in the message of resilience and inclusivity put forth by the video, and trusts the community will be inspired to emerge through this pandemic stronger and better, which we are very grateful for.”
The group hopes to inspire viewers to feel motivated upon seeing PWDs accomplishing the “impossible”.
As one of the performers in the music video, Wheelsmith shared that by being part of a performance that can change society’s perception of PWDs and be recognised at the same time is an honour for him.
“I am truly humbled to be a part of something so meaningful. I hope similarly, it inspires anyone facing different forms of challenges in their daily life as well, which has in fact been Ron’s goal for this video.”
Applications for the oscar@sg fund are still open. Visit https://www.temasektrust.org.sg/Oscar for more information.
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