No matter how much you study, practise, and refine your art on your own, nothing beats real-time experience out in the arts industry in Singapore – being at the mercy of the world’s critics.
Valuable insights will only truly come if you are able to secure access to the very people who are already in the know, veterans in the field whom you can look up to.
Mentorships offer not just constructive guidance through the passing of knowledge and skills, but also professional development.
A mentorship is the modern day’s answer to the Master-Apprentice relationships of old.
Together with A-List Singapore, here are some mentorship programmes that we think you would be interested in.
If You Think A Pen Is Mightier Than A Sword
This is for all of you wordsmiths out there – tThose of you who have been bewitched by the magic of J.K. Rowling, or enchanted by the fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Writing is not just about penning your very own international bestselling novels either. Literature can also expand into the world of poetry and prose, into playwriting and journalism.
The power to influence a generation with your words is a burden not to be taken lightly, and having someone who can guide you with it can potentially transform the way you write.
What mentorships are available if you want to transcend your literary limits?
Mentor Access Project (MAP)
First, we have the Mentor Access Project (MAP) by the National Arts Council.
As part of this 12-month long programme aimed at developing emerging writers in Singapore’s four national languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, you will also be matched up with a published author.
In your field of choice, and during the term of mentorship, you will also be able to participate in a residency, dialogue sessions, group workshops and public readings.
Applications can be sent online with their downloadable forms which contains all the instructions. Thereafter, you will be invited for an interview should you be selected, and then shortlisted to enter the programme.
Upon being successfully inducted into the programme, there will be a one-time non-refundable S$500 administrative fee, after which all costs will be covered when attending talks, workshops, and other events under the programme.
Young Critics Mentorship Programme
If you view yourself as more of a critic than an artist, there’s also a mentorship opportunity for that. The Arts House has a relatively new mentorship programme called the Young Critics Mentorship Programme.
What this mentorship aims to do is to nurture and develop the next generation of literary critics and reviewers. This programme takes place over 12 months, during which you will focus on writing critical essays and book reviews.
The only way to enter is to shoot them an email when applications open with the necessary forms, a 500-word review, a 200-word biography of yourself, and finally another 200 words on why you would like to enter this programme.
You will have the opportunity to work with Arts House partners such as Ethos Books, Epigram Books, and Monsoon Books during your term, after which your reviews and essays that were written will be published on The Arts House’s website.
Singapore Creative Writing Residency
The Arts House also has a mentorship programme for writers – albeit a very exclusive one.
Each year, only two residencies are offered as part of this 6-month programme, one to a Singaporean, the other to an international writer.
To have a shot at entering this highly exclusive residency, again you can apply online by downloading their forms here, and sending an email to the provided address.
The good thing is that applications for this are currently open and run until 21 February 2017, so make sure all your supporting documents are sent along with your application form.
The programme is in partnership with the National University of Singapore’s University Scholars Programme and Faculty of Arts, and chosen residents will be provided accommodation within NUS, on top of financial and practical support.
Baybeats Budding Writers
Every year as part of the lead-up to their festival, Baybeats will open up their Budding Initiatives to aspiring artists in a given field to be part of the event in real-time.
For those with a passion for music and popular culture, the Baybeats Budding Writers programme is all for you.
You will get a hands-on experience with live event coverage during Baybeats itself, and in the run to the actual day, you will be mentored by Eddino Abdul Hadi, music correspondent for The Straits Times.
It is a little too early for applications as the Baybeats festival is only held in the second half of the year.
Do keep a lookout on Esplanade’s Baybeats page for any updates of when they will begin accepting entries for the Budding Initiatives.
If To You, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Understandably, not all of us are in touch with our inner Shakespeare, and for some of us we are driven by the need to create breathtakingly beautiful visuals.
As accessible as it is, doesn’t mean that you cannot level up by learning from someone who has done it a lot longer.
Baybeats Budding Photographers
We start off with Baybeats again. Among their non-music initiatives, their Budding Photographer programme is perhaps the oldest, running for a grand total of six years now.
In 2016, eight aspiring photographers got the chance to be mentored by renowned local music photographer Aloysius Lim.
Through a structured programme which includes workshops and critique sessions, selected participants are put through a gruelling regiment in anticipation for the actual festival.
Applicants will again be through Esplanade’s Baybeats website.
Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA) Mentorship Programme
This 3-month programme by Invisible Photographer Asia successfully made it to its 4th year in 2016.
Each year, their mentorship programme uncovers talented photographers throughout the region, in areas such as street and abstract photography.
This is a mentorship that is not only open to Singaporeans, and IPA achieves this by conducting their sessions and workshops online through video conference calls.
But to get to that stage, you will first have to send an online application which will include a proposal about your aims for entering this mentorship, a biography of yourself, and of course, a portfolio.
If you are selected, there will be a US$600 registration fee to confirm your participation in the programme.
Shooting Home By OBJECTIFS
OBJECTIFS has become the go-to place for local photographers to converge to indulge in all things photography – from their many events, to talks and workshops.
The Shooting Home series has been a mainstay among their programmes since 2003.
The whole idea for Shooting Home involves bringing together a group of established photographers to mentor aspiring ones, while challenging them to create a body of work that shows what ‘home’ means to them.
Like IPA, this mentorship is open to Singaporeans, as well as foreign applicants. Details for this year’s event is not out yet, but here’s a look at last year’s when it was a 5-day programme.
OBJECTIFS is also holding an exhibition for the 2016 alumni of the Noise Arts Mentorships titled Between Home And Home. It is currently on show until 12 March 2017 at their main gallery at 155 Middle Road.
Art Photography Mentorship & Exhibition (APME)
Last but not least, there’s the mentorship programme by the granddaddy of all local photography organisations.
The Photographic Society of Singapore (PSS) was established in 1950, and since then, has provided photography workshops and exhibition opportunities for many generations of Singaporeans.
Last year though, they established a new initiative – the Art Photography Mentorship & Exhibition (APME).
This 3-month programme is open to aspiring photographers aged 17 to 35, and is slated to be held between October and December.
Your mentors will not just be regular photographers either – they will be practitioners with a fine art and teaching background.
Applications will be done online, and you will have submit the usual proposal and portfolio when applying.
If You See The World Through The Beauty Of Sound
Perhaps the most important art form where practitioners stand to benefit the most from a mentorship is probably music.
As much as musicians experiment with new sounds, and toy around with outrageous stage concepts, you can never beat the down to earth advice from someone who was once in your shoes.
Music is as much an intrinsic part of our lives as literature and the visual arts. It is what shapes culture, and it is something which we listen to every day.
For people who want take it a step further, to make music a part of their lives, two mentorships in Singapore stand out.
Noise Music Mentorship (NMM)
If you don’t know what Noise Singapore is, you are missing out on a lot of arts and design happenings, performances, exhibitions, and, you’ve guessed it, mentorships.
For over a decade, the Noise Mentorship programme has welcomed some of the most talented local artists around, and the community continues to grow each year.
As we plunge into 2017, why not try out for the Noise Music Mentorship?
It doesn’t matter whether you have a record label or not; in fact, if you have never played at any major music festivals such as Baybeats and Mosaic, you will be given higher priority.
This programme is for any avid musician to learn from experienced musicians and producers.
Applications are solely through the Noise Singapore website, where you will fill up an online form, and also attach your portfolio of works to be submitted.
Mosaic Jazz Fellows
Formerly known as the Bright Young Things, the Mosaic Jazz Fellows is a mentorship programme for musicians.
Launched in 2010, this 10-week programme is open to musicians aged 15 to 25 years old.
You will have to already be proficient in at least one musical instrument and be able to sight-read well, aside from the must-have passion for Jazz.
Of course, impressing at an audition is a must to be selected for this programme.
The programme culminates with an opportunity to show off your skills live at Esplanade’s Jazz in July series, where all the big names in Singapore’s Jazz scene will take the stage.
Applications will only go live once the Esplanade announces that the programme is open. Here’s last year’s application form if you’d like to some details.
Baybeats Budding Bands
We round up the mentorship series by once again revisiting Baybeats.
The Baybeats Budding Bands Initiative has been a mainstay since the festival’s inception, and until today remains a platform that has uncovered a multitude of local bands ready to rock the stages of the world.
The Baybeats Budding Bands Initiative will celebrate its tenth-year anniversary this year.
Step one into getting in is to of course apply for the programme online when applications go live on the Baybeats website.
Next, as with any music mentorships, wow the judges at your audition once you are selected to come down.
Only when you pass these two hurdles will you gain access to this programme.
2016’s mentors include Bani Hidir from 53A, Daniel Sassoon from In Each Hand A Cutlass, Errol Tan from KittyWu Records and Leonard Soosay from Snakeweed Studios.
Aside from just being mentored by music industry veterans like them, you will also get to know several backend processes through workshops that cover marketing, production, recording, and even performance technique.
From literary works, critics, visual arts, and all the way to music, artists in Singapore have seen a diverse array of opportunities being opened up in the way of mentorships.
With creativity now being celebrated, it’s never a better time to pursue your passion, and these mentorships may just be that initial push you need to make this a career.
For more insights on the latest happenings in Singapore’s arts scene, be sure to head on over to the A-List for your daily dose of artistic indulgence.
Featured image credit: Lifestyle Asia