No Effort Too Small for Outgoing Committee Member Aishwariyah Shanmuganathan

With the current committee ending their term of 2019-2021 at the upcoming Annual General Meeting on 4th August, we sat down with some of the committee members to reflect on an eventful 2 years.

Spearheading many conversations during her term as a committee member, Aishwariyah is most proud of being able to lead initiatives to help fellow educators and practitioners during this period. Not only does she lead a focus group on creating ideal terms and conditions for drama educators, but she also proudly manages SDEA’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) department during her term. 

In addition to teaching and directing young learners of drama as an educator outside of SDEA, she also writes, lectures, trains adults, and mentors teachers. 

As a practitioner, she enjoys collaborative multidisciplinary works. She has an innate love for traditional art forms and is always excited about finding ways to build an interchange of ideas. Her go-getter attitude has her liking extreme sports. She would love to go sky-diving some day! 

You've led a lot of advocacy work over these 2 years. What are you most proud of accomplishing?   

In the past 2 years I have been actively involved in advocacy work. Spearheading our COVID-19 response initiatives where I initiated conversations with various agencies to clarify, find, and collate relevant information and provide support to Self-Employed/Freelance arts educators and practitioners affected is one thing I am very proud of.

With the support of the secretariat, we collated data through forum discussions and surveys with members and non-members to substantiate discussions with agencies and ministries.

This then led to the initiation of a strong focus group that meets bi-monthly to work on developing a playbook of these terms and conditions.  

Any proud achievements leading the CET department?   

As the main comm member managing the CET department, there are 4 programmes we pulled together that I consider personal achievements.

Firstly, planning, managing and executing 2 successful iterations of the Essentials of Teaching and Learning Approaches (ETLA) programme.

Secondly, programming, managing and adapting the Level Up! Fest online amidst the pandemic. This included collaborating with artists, teaching artists, and arts workers to offer relevant programmes during this period. I was also actively involved in the planning and coordinating of three NAC-SDEA-CDSA programmes attracting audiences from Singapore and overseas.

Thirdly, initiating the creation of an NAC endorsed Essentials of Teaching and Learning Approaches programme specific to Early Childhood Arts Educators.

Lastly and most recently was managing and executing the NAC commissioned Grant Writing 101 video series and panel discussion this past month!

What insight has leading this department given you?   

I have learnt that the ecosystem is interdependent and ever evolving.

It is important to maintain constant communication with various stakeholders and ensure that our professional development programmes are aligned with the policies in place and the current needs, as well as fill the gaps that are identified along the way.  

What is something you have learnt serving as a committee member?   

I have learnt that arts advocacy and leadership require a great amount of commitment. To change “what is” into “what should be”, you need to educate patiently, advocate passionately and inspire consistently.  

What are your plans after your term is over in August?  

I am planning to run for the elections again to continue working as a committee member. I will actively develop the CET department and launch and oversee the CET programmes that are in the pipeline.   

What are some words of advice you would like to give the next committee? 

Firstly, communication is key when working on projects in a volunteer-led organisation like SDEA. Secondly, be a team player and be adaptable. Thirdly, remember that no effort is too small- it is the small efforts that contribute to the larger picture, and lastly, always go back to the core, which is the vision and mission of SDEA.

Aishwariyah's term as Committee Member (2019-2021) will end at the Annual General Meeting on 4th August 2021, where a new committee will be elected. If you are a member, we invite you to attend the AGM and/or run for committee. Find out more information here.