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Looking Back at What the MADEinSG Community Have Been up to During the Circuit Breaker

1 June 2020

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Looking Back at What the MADEinSG Community Have Been up to During the Circuit Breaker

Tomorrow marks the end of Singapore’s two month long circuit breaker. While the country gradually reopens itself, the sheer scope and damage of the shutdown and the pandemic has wrought on the MADEinSG industry continues to be seen. 

However, if how the community has made the best of the circuit breaker is of any indication, Singapore’s creatives will continue to adapt even under unprecedented and extreme circumstances. 

Amidst the frustrations and despair, COVID-19 has inadvertently pulled closer together previously fragmented segments of the creative industries, leading to synergies and projects never seen before. Despite most facing an uncertain future, some have also made use of their unique skills to do good for the greater community during this stasis. 

The projects and content that have emerged from the past two months has brought to centrestage the heart, the depth of talent, and the fiery resolve of one of Singapore’s most underappreciated industries. Here is a quick retrospective of just some of the initiatives and projects the MADEinSG community have been up to during the circuit breaker.

Showcasing Their Crafts Online 

(Image credit: Singapore Chinese Orchestra)

Amidst the isolation, an innumerable number of video content, music and art have emerged. In response to the crisis, most look to create solidarity amongst Singaporeans and are in support for our frontline workers. These are only but a few of the highlights Singapore’s creatives have brought online.

Despite being unable to congregate offline, members of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Orkestra Melayu Singapura, and the SingPop Music Foundation have brought their virtuosity online with rousing compositions to keep the country’s spirits up. Even Singapore’s magicians joined in the fun, rallying Singaporeans to stay united through their own entertaining and mind bending ways.

With theatres forced to shutter, theatre companies such as The Necessary Stage and WILD RICE have each shared some of their acclaimed productions on the Internet. Similarly, local filmmakers have been undeterred by the circumstances. For example, NSFTV’s project An Instagram (Love) Story showed that these times could be a font of stories just waiting to be told. 

Creatives have also taken the opportunity to share their knowledge in their own unique ways. Actor Kasimir Poh Cieslak showcased his knowledge on fight choreography and filmed a fight scene with himself, before spilling the beans in a short tutorial. Local creatives, led by freelance assistant director Tiffany Ng, responded to the surge of COVID-19 cases amongst migrant workers to create a heartfelt message for them in solidarity – with versions in six different languages.

Going Live To Bridge The Distance

(Image credit: vinyloftheday.com)

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented attention to live-streaming. With its ease of access and the ability for the audience to communicate with the streamers, live-streams have been a substitute for human interaction for many during the circuit breaker. While programmes and websites have made it relatively easy for anyone to start a stream, the MADEinSG community has undoubtedly made the best out of the medium.

apART.sg, a website dedicated to the local arts scene, has done an excellent job in compiling the live-streams of the MADEinSG community. Perhaps the most common use of livestreams are with the slew of talk shows and workshops. Whether you want to learn more about photography, about freelancing in Singapore, or just want to spend an evening with three local illustrators goofing around drawing, there is a stream out there for everyone to be entertained and connected.

Video content has integrated the format into their online premieres, such as with the aforementioned WILD RICE productions, and with films $alary Day and FLAT. With the team behind these productions joining in through the live chat, it bridged the gap between audience and creators like never before.

The closure of entertainment venues has led to local musicians bringing live performances to our homes over live-streams. Want some relaxing jazz to cap off  a busy day working from home? Saxophonist Daniel Chia has got you covered with his arsenal of smooth jazz covers of popular hits. Want to rock out while supporting some of Singapore’s emerging and established musicians? Check out Take Back The Nights, a community-led concert series that aims to grow and sustain the local music sense for the circuit breaker period and beyond.

(Anticipate Pictures founder Vincent Quek and local filmmakers Boo Junfeng and Kirsten Tan hosting a watch party of ‘Toni Erdmann’ / Image credit: Anticipate Pictures)

In the film world, the closures have led to film organisations and businesses adapting online. Postponed film festivals, such as the Happiness Film Festival and Singapore Mental Health Film Festival, have brought their festivities and activities online with web seminars, watch parties, and showcases.

Independent film distributor Anticipate Pictures made available some of its extensive catalogue online, with a few promoted through watch parties hosted by local filmmakers. Independent theatre The Projector have looked to sustain through online screenings and merchandises while hosting discussions, competitions, and moving its quiz nights online to keep Singaporeans occupied during these isolating times.

Initiatives Beyond Content

(Image credit: Creatives Commissioning Creatives Facebook page)

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to unprecedented social and economic strains in Singapore. Despite the limiting circumstances of the circuit breaker, many in the MADEinSG community have still responded with initiatives that look to tackle these challenges head on.

Starting out right before the circuit breaker, the still ongoing Creatives Commissioning Creatives initiative by freelance writer Ng Swee San looks to help out freelancers who lost their gigs and jobs during this period, and has successfully commissioned artwork, short films, and even finger puppet performances. Similarly, the Pasar Glamour Art Aid shares similar goals and looks to provide urgent financial assistance for affected freelancers.

Ng, together with members of the MADEinSG community, has also collaborated with Carousell and the Singapore Brand Office to launch a MADE in SG platform on the local marketplace. The platform looks to give creatives free exposure to sell their works and services as part of a curated collection, while promoting Singaporeans to support their fellow artists. 

(Image credit: Creatives for aid Facebook page)

Beyond through content, Singapore’s creatives have volunteered both their time and expertise to help out the larger community in any way they can. The team behind I Lost My Gig (Singapore) went the extra mile by creating Creatives For Aid, a group consisting of creatives engaged in all matters of on-the-ground volunteer efforts. Responding to the migrant workers’ ongoing battle with the pandemic, initiatives such as Artists On Permits (Singapore) and VisualAid have also sprung up to assist in any way they can. 

The Passion To Help One Another

While these content and initiatives have certainly taken the spotlight, that is not to discount the quieter, understated outreaches amongst the MADEinSG community. Creatives have volunteered to share their skills, equipment and their ears to help each other tide through these trying times. 

And this is just a snapshot of the numerous interactions within the SG COVID-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group on Facebook, with the same spirit surely shining on in other collectives that, in total, make up the diversity and selflessness of the MADEinSG industry in Singapore.

How life will change in post-circuit breaker Singapore will probably be as uncertain as when we first bunkered in two months ago. Nevertheless, what seems certain is that the MADE inSGcommunity will continue to soldier on no matter the odds.


Read more:
Sinema.SG LIVE! Episode #24 “Creatives for Aid’ Volunteer Group Updates
Alone, Together – How Watch Parties Look to Mend Cinema’s Communal Experience Frayed by COVID-19
Navigating COVID-19 – Insights From the Heart of the Industry

There's nothing Matt loves more than "so bad, they're good" movies. Except browsing through crates of vinyl records. And Mexican food.
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