“Hi Ines, have discussed with the team and unfortunately we are unable to commit to having an intern during the stated period.”
Indeed, my first correspondence with Art Outreach had been a refusal, which seems quite ironic now, after having spent such an enriching internship with them in May. Though, back in February, after having scoured the internet for art organisations that fit my idea of a first internship, Art Outreach was the only non-profit that truly caught my attention and I was not quite ready to abandon my efforts. Not only do they concretely involve themselves in communities to introduce art in spaces that may not have the opportunity but they also operate as an art gallery and a platform to promote emerging artists. I thought it would be particularly beneficial to be able to work in such an environment. I tried my luck again and after a few exchanges, my application was luckily accepted. I had yet to set foot into the art gallery and Art Outreach had already emphasised an important lesson; perseverance is key.
To give further context, my internship took place as a part of my university’s Parcours Civique or Civic Learning Programme, a requirement to complete at least 140 hours in a non-profit organisation of your choice. Having always been inclined towards the arts, I wished to spend my first internship in a cultural, artistic organisation, hence my determination towards Art Outreach. I ended up completing over 200 hours.
From article-writing to amusingly calling Ikea for an order of 100 hotdogs, my time at Art Outreach was meaningful, colourful and extremely educational.
During my time around the communal work table, I was able to dabble in numerous contrasting sectors which has taught me infinitely more than the stereotypical office desk job I thought I was going to have.
From article-writing to amusingly calling Ikea for an order of 100 hotdogs, my time at Art Outreach was meaningful, colourful and extremely educational. Much of my in-office work was aimed at helping Art Outreach with media production as well as their marketing. I was often tasked with getting myself more than acquainted with their projects such as Hearth or the Art-in-Transit program in order for me to rightfully cover it and document it. From helping out in interviews to actually sifting through footage for editing, I was able to witness and learn throughout the entire process. Subsequently, I was tasked with editing the footage for their social media to make it comprehensible and concise for all. When I wasn’t editing content for their platforms, I also wrote articles for their website. Concerning the articles I worked on, they were fascinating to write. Due to my novelty to the tackled subjects - art in our MRT stations or the “SEA book”, a compendium of 64 notable contemporary artists in the region - I was learning so much more than anticipated on the Singaporean art scene which furthered my general interest in contemporary art.
The other major part of my internship happened “in the field”. Alongside the warm, bubbly and kid-popular colleague Dina, I helped volunteer in two of Art Outreach’s programmes - the school assembly programmes as well as the ArtLink Community Programme . The former was an eye-opener as it allowed me to briefly peek into the Singaporean primary school experience whilst the latter developed my imagination and artistic assisting skills. Rarely considering myself a “kid-friendly” individual, working with these children on their paper mâché projects was surprisingly uplifting and inspiring. I got to help them bring to life their imaginations, from rainbow raccoons all the way to shell-less turtles. Despite having to peel the glue off of myself days after the workshops had ended, ArtLink was a joy to partake in.
However, truthfully, what made this experience overwhelmingly positive was the team - Colin, Dina, Eve, Hazel and Mae. Day after day, they constantly guided me and taught me more about the art ecosystem in Singapore. Though on paper they may have distinctly different roles, in reality, they all work harmoniously together, contributing to each other’s work and furthering efficiency and quality. Art Outreach also reinforced a true team spirit with their bonding or enrichment days which consisted in visiting art galleries around Singapore together or participating in a fun activity such as rock climbing. In short, the environment I worked in was coated in such a healthy and respectful professionalism and warm friendliness thus allowing my numerous queries to be met with patience and enthusiasm despite the hefty to-do list they face.
I do want to mention an equally important component of my internship - the food tours they brought me on. The team took my inexperience to some local foods at heart which prompted some daily culinary discoveries. In short, I not only left Art Outreach with a full mind but also a fuller stomach.
I think one of my biggest takeaways has been how it has inspired me to get more involved in the field of art and culture.
If I had to sum up my 200+ hours at 5 Lock Road, I would say that I had one of the best experiences learning about working in a non-profit in the arts sector. I was able to develop skills from anyone that frequented the art gallery; thanks to the team’s expertise but also from the artists contributing to the space as well. I think one of my biggest takeaways has been how it has inspired me to get more involved in the field of art and culture. I’ve always had an inkling about wanting to go into that field though Art Outreach has inspired me to pursue it more seriously. Finally, to anyone who might be looking at working with Art Outreach, I can only recommend the experience. To be able to briefly join a team of such generous and kind-hearted individuals in the hopes of promoting art in Singapore was absolutely wonderful and a great start to my professional life.
*Note: This reflection was contributed by Ines Dubois, a Sciences Po student who undertook an internship with Art Outreach from May to June 2023.