Sunday, April 02, 2006

S.C.N.U.K. Events: First Gathering as the Singapore Creative Network UK

Article by Michele Koh, Photos by Cheyok Cere


Date: 25 March, 2006

Venue: Bar Room Bar, Soho

The Singapore Creative Network UK (SCNUK) had their first gathering on Saturday, 25th March 2006. Close to thirty students and professionals from all sectors of the creative industry turned up at the Bar Room Bar in Soho for an afternoon icebreaker. The host and organizer of the event was Eugene Ng, a DesignSingapore MICA scholar who is currently pursuing his MA in management and policy studies for the Cultural and Creative Industries at the King’s College University of London. Eugene said that he had been hoping to see SCNUK materialize for almost a year. Last year, Eugene and graphic designer Che Yok Cere were planning to launch a website and blog for the much neglected community of Singaporean students and artists living and working in the United Kingdom. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at the London College of Communication (UAL), Eugene had met up with many Singaporeans in London, all of whom share a common goal – to nurture the creative arts in Singapore and help it flourish into an industry of increasing strength. “It would be a shame if Singaporeans return home never having met another student or professional who has and is going through the same cultural and artistic metamorphosis that he or she is going through at the moment.” Said Eugene. The goal of SCNUK is to serve as a platform for UK based Singaporeans in the creative community to socialize, ideate, debate, collaborate and network.

During a dinner with Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, held at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel on the 13th March 2006, Eugene met Sylvia Lim, a former lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic, and currently the Business Development Director of CYC The Custom Shop, and Michele Koh, a journalist and student at the London College of Communication. Eugene, Che Yok, Sylvia and Michele got together, and a network for creative Singaporeans in the UK was born.

At 2pm, people started arriving at the Mirror Room – the back section of the Bar Room Bar. Being all creative types – flamboyant by Singapore standards! Progressive, unconventional, ‘artsy-fartsy’ and bold, people were feeling at home with each other in no time. Among the crowd were Pei Rong and Aaron, fashion and fine art students from Central St. Martins and London College of Fashion, graphic designer Angelina Yam, musicians Melvin Tan and Tan Wei Wei, ballet teacher Celine Tan and aspiring film maker Marcus Lim. Pei Rong wearing antique keys from Arab Street and safety pins as jewellery, and Aaron with his mod hairstyle, looked very much the part of ‘grungy art student.’ The rest of the crowd expressed their creative temperaments in other ways! Topics of conversation included, the Korean film “Old Boy”, speed networking breakfasts, which local MediaCorp celebrity is gay or lesbian, why some Singaporeans return home with terrible phoney accents and of course, how to market new ideas to a very guarded and unforgiving Singaporean audience.

The event generated such a dynamic flow of discussion that despite the rain, the group proceeded to a Starbucks at Leicester Square to continue their soiree. It was a usual Saturday in downtown London and the Starbucks was packed to the hilt and there weren’t any seats. Being Singaporeans gave the group and edge. They managed to hover around the tables, undeterred in their banter in a situation where anyone else would have moved on. Persistence pays off and coffee drinkers in the joint, eventually tired of being eyeballed by a bunch of noisy Singaporeans, eventually gave up their seats!

Melvin enticed us with an invite to his place for dinner some time in the future, after months of sandwiches, kebabs and fish and chips, all of us were drooling at the thought of his mom’s signature dish of chicken rending.

In the meantime, Eugene, Che Yok, Sylvia and Michele have been busy getting the show on the road! Our next gathering is slated for Saturday, 3rd June 2006. We look forward to seeing all of you soon. Perhaps Melvin will bring a pot of that chicken rending!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

News: Closer to Home, The Overseas Singaporean Unit in London



Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng has launched a new Overseas Singaporean Unit in London. It aims to keep the large Singaporean community abreast of developments back home, as well as help them make the most of their time away. The Overseas Singaporean Unit was set up by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Its launch saw around 250 students based in London gather to hear directly from the Deputy Prime Minister. Said Mr Wong, "You don't have to all work in Singapore. I can say that because we are a very small place. We would like you to go overseas too, maybe not just to America and Britain but in Asia itself; there are lots of opportunities where you can work.".

The OSU has three main focuses - providing information and services to Singaporeans overseas, helping the diaspora gain employment either at home or away, and creating new networks to keep the overseas communities in touch with each other and with events in Singapore.

The DPM said while Singaporeans were ambassadors for the nation overseas he hoped many would return home to share their skills and knowledge. Mr Wong said, "Singaporeans can be useful for themselves as well as for the country when they have the experience. They can be useful serving Singapore, not just in Singapore but also overseas. But at the same time, if they stay connected with us, come home one day, then they can also contribute to Singapore's economy."

The OSU in London is aimed at ensuring they can stay in touch and remain valuable members of the country - wherever they may be.