Ahead of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BT BAF) charity dinner that he is initiating, Goh Bock Seng is busy rallying friends and associates for support. The founder and principal of boutique M&A firm, Dealmakers International Ltd, is a figure in the fundraising circuit but he treats this particular project with urgency. “The pandemic has been tough on everyone,” he says, “but even more so on the youth.” He is basing his observation on reports of exacerbated mental health problems among the young due to the tremendous mental stress brought about by the pandemic.
Goh has been championing youth-oriented causes for years. In 1998, he was invited to join the Young Entrepreneur’s Organization (YEO) as a member, and was subsequently elected as the organization’s president. During his term, to support and nurture budding entrepreneurs, he encouraged members of the YEO to share the stories behind their achievements which led to the publishing of Young Entrepreneurs: Success Made in Singapore in 1999.
The welfare of children and the youth has been central to his social commitments. As Goh acknowledges that the pandemic has put the youth in a vulnerable position, he is convinced that there are effective ways to help them, one of which is through the arts. “Through the creative resources and platforms provided to children and youths during the circuit breaker, access to the arts empowered the disadvantaged to cope with and adjust to the new norm,” he says quoting BT BAF findings.
For the past 17 years, since BT BAF was adopted by The Business Times in 2005, it has served over 20,000 beneficiaries through various arts-oriented outreach activities. Over the years, it has supported the development of programs catered to the requirements of its beneficiaries, including art exposure and exploration, introductory arts courses, specialized training and incubation.
In turn, BT BAF has delivered a slew of achievements, including the formation of art collectives, mounting of signature annual productions, alumni who continue their pursuit of the arts at tertiary level, and provision of a platform for the community to give back. A study conducted by Kantar also shows that BT BAF improves access to the arts, nurtures beneficiaries’ interest in the arts, provides a sense of community to vulnerable youths, and helps register positive socio-emotional development among its beneficiaries.
The programs continue. This year, the BT BAF dinner, on 21 July at Swissôtel The Stamford will again help provide underserved children and youth with the opportunity to pursue their creative and artistic talent through arts training programs.
Firm in his belief that the future lies with the youth, regardless of their background, Goh is ensuring that they get the support they need to reach their fullest potential. The amount raised at this fundraising dinner, organized by non-profit organization TRCL (The RICE Company Ltd), will go directly to BT BAF to continue in their work of empowering lives through the arts.
BT BAF is looking at maintaining its outreach of 1,000 beneficiaries per annum and making classes more relevant with the incorporation of the use of digital technology in the curriculum. “There are many things we can do to alleviate the dire condition of our children and youths. The BT BAF dinner is definitely among the most effective, and I am appealing to everyone to help this cause,” Goh concludes.
Register for the fundraising dinner here.