The Power of the Arts to Strengthen Communities, Create Sustainable Livelihoods and Drive Social Change

Event Details
  • June 4th, Monday, 2:30pm - 4:00pm
  • Breakout Room 335
Soh Lai Yee

Soh Lai Yee

Head, Cultural Exchange Singapore International Foundation

Read session notes here. 

Session Description

Globally and locally, we have witnessed a substantial growth in philanthropy and social investing, as well as a trend that increasingly aligns values with one’s giving and investing.  Yet today, there is a lack of capital flowing into the creative economy – the alignment with arts and culture is missing, at the expense of the very communities funders seek to help.

Arts and culture are essential for community development –  it strengthens communities by building social connections within groups and across social divides; creates sustainable livelihoods as it is resistant to automation,  contributing to economic opportunity. It is also investable and drives social change through impact. In the US, arts and culture represent $730 billion or 4.2% of US gross GDP (National Endowment for the Arts and US Bureau of Economic Analysis). Since 1994, the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at University of Pennsylvania has documented how neighbourhoods with a vital cultural life also enjoy stronger community and civic engagement, better health, schooling, security, and economic revitalization.

Beyond community development, artists and designers are behind some of the most successful start-ups that have changed our world. For example: Airbnb, Pinterest, and Kickstarter.

Arts can engage with the world to change the world – the boundless limitations that creativity brings. We invite you to imagine the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to create the ecosystem for funding the arts in Asia.
  • Understanding the parallel significance of Arts in community development and economic opportunities.
  • Lessons that can be learnt to develop a philanthropic mindset to support a robust arts and cultural sector.
  • How to foster collaboration between artists and funders to maximise impact.


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