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Creative Arts Programme is established 12th Mar 1990

The Creative Arts Programme (CAP) is an annual creative writing programme for secondary and junior college students. It was established on 12 March 1990 by the Ministry of Education’s (MOE’s) Gifted Education Unit in collaboration with the National University of Singapore’s (NUS’) Department of English Language and Literature. It aimed to nurture talented young writers.[1] Currently, the programme is jointly organised by the Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. It is targeted at all Secondary 2 and 3 students, as well as Year 5 Integrated Programme School and Year 1 Junior College students.[2]

The CAP was founded and advised by Professor Edwin Thumboo, then Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. He worked closely with an organising committee headed by Doreen Goh, then a Gifted Education specialist with MOE, for the inaugural Creative Arts Seminar for budding writers in March 1990. This 4-day seminar, attended by Secondary 2 to 4 GEP and express-stream students from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution, was themed "The Art of Literature".[3]  Participants of the seminar were exposed to different aspects of the arts, and given the opportunity to interact and learn from well-known local writers, cartoonists and songwriters.[4]

Following its successful trial, the programme was extended to junior colleges and officially launched by then Senior Minister of State for Education Tay Eng Soon at a seminar titled “Eye on the World: The Writer’s Impulse” on 16 July 1991.[5] The seminar was initially opened to applicants from 12 secondary schools known for their forte in creative writing and proficiency in the English language, and all junior colleges. Admission to the programme was and still is based on competitive assessment of the students’ writing portfolio by MOE officials and established practitioners.[6]

The CAP comprises a creative arts seminar and a nine-month mentorship programme. During the seminar, students explore and develop a critical awareness of the creative process, and are exposed to various literary forms such as prose, poetry and drama through writing workshops, plenary sessions, forums, hands-on sessions and performance workshops. Selected participants are identified for the mentorship programme based on the merit of their writing portfolio and participation during the workshops. As part of the mentorship programme, participants are paired with established writers who guide the students in honing their craft. The works of the mentored students are published in an annual anthology, Eye on the World.[7] In 1995, creative works in the mother tongue were included.[8]

The CAP has played an important role in the nurture and creative growth of many budding writers, some of whom have gone on to win accolades and had their works staged and published. Notable alumni include Toh Hsien Min, who became president of the Oxford University Poetry Society in 1998, playwright Alfian Sa’at and Teng Qian Xi, winner of The Poetry Society’s (UK) Simon Elvin Young Poet of the Year Award in 2000.[9] In April 1995, the Creative Arts Programme Alumni was established by former participants.[10]

The themes for the CAP since its inception are as follows:

1991: The Writer’s Response
1992: Changing Landscapes
1993: Bridging Worlds
1994: Making Waves
1995: Envisioning Community
1996: Crossing Boundaries
1997: Celebrating Diversity
1998: Imprinting the Journey
1999: Romancing the Millennium
2000: Remembering Tomorrow
2001: Beyond Beginnings
2002: Engaging the Other
2003–2004: Engaging Ourselves[11]
2005: The Past as Future[12]
2006: Re-making Language[13]
2007: Wiring Heartlands[14]
2008: Healing Silence[15]
2009: Journeying Home[16]
2010: Word Weavers, World Makers[17]
2011: Winnowing Memories[18]
2012: Baring Soles[19]
2013: Unearthing Truths[20]
2014: Paradoxes of Life[21]

1. Pakir, A., & Goh, D. (Eds.). (1992). Eye on the world: Changing landscapes (p. xi). Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: RSING S820 EYE.
2. (26 September 2017). Email correspondence with Lim, S.Y., Head of Special Programmes, Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Ministry of Education.
3. Lim, S.Y., 26 September 2017.; Creative Arts Programme. (1992, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 2; Ng, W. J. (1990, January 22). Arts creativity seminar for talented secondary school students. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Lim, S. (1990, March 17). Youthful spontaneity at creative arts seminar. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Pakir, A., & Goh, D. (Eds.). (1999). Eye on the world: Romancing the millennium (p. xi). Singapore: Unipress. Call no.: RSING S820 EYE; Multi-racial setting can enrich culture: Dr Tay. (1991, July 17). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The Straits Times, 1 Jun 1992, p. 2.
7. Pakir & Goh, 1992, p. xi; Ministry of Education, 13 Nov 2013, Humanities and Language Arts Programme: Creative Arts Programme (CAP).
8. Write in your mother tongue, students urged. (1995, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Ministry of Communications and Information. (2003, November 17). Speech by Minister Lee Boon Yang at the opening of the 14th Creative Arts Programme (CAP) Seminar at the NUS University Cultural Centre. Retrieved February 6, 2015, from Ministry of Communications and Information website: http://www.mci.gov.sg/mobile/news/media/speech-by-minister-lee-boon-yang-at-the-opening-of-the-14th-creative-arts-programme-cap-seminar-at-the-nus-university-cultural-centre
10. Toh, H. M. (Ed.). (1996). First words: A selection of works by young writers in Singapore (p. xxxviii). Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: RSING S820 FIR.
11. Goh, R., & Soh, J. (Eds.). (2003). Engaging ourselves (p. ix). Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: RSING S820 ENG.
12. Patke, R. S., & Soh, J. (Eds.). (2005). Eye on the world: The past as future. Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: YRSING S820 EYE.
13. Patke, R. S., & Soh, J. (Eds.). (2006). Re-making language. Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: YRSING 808.89283 RE.
14. Yong, S. H., & Tan, K. M. (Eds.). (2007). Wiring heartlands. Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 WIR.
15. Yong, S. H., Wong, F. S., & Chong, S. H. (Eds.). (2008). Healing silence. Singapore: UniPress. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 HEA.
16. Yong, S. H., Lim, S. Y., & Chia, H. P. (Eds.). (2009). Journeying home. Singapore: Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 JOU.
17. Yong. S. H., & Luisita, A. (Eds.). (2010). World weavers, world makers. Singapore: Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 WOR.
18. Yong, S. H., Lim, S. Y., & Koh, G. (Eds.). (2011). Winnowing memories. Singapore: Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 WIN.
19. Yong, S. H., et al. (Eds.). (2012). Baring soles. Singapore: Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 BAR.
20. Oon, C., et. al. (Eds.). (2013). Unearthing truths. Singapore: Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education. Call no.: RSING 808.899283 UNE.
21. Toh, 1996, p. xxxviii.


The information in this article is valid as at March 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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