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Focus on Film founder Elissa Rosati offers practical tips. Photo: Focus On Film

Arts education can stimulate creative thinking

Classes bring creative thinking to less affluent children


Arts and education groups roll out a plethora of innovative activities to keep children occupied and stimulated over the long summer break.

But the programmes are often beyond the means of working-class families. Two non-profit organisations running workshops over the next few weeks hope to extend the experience to underprivileged children.

People are realising the benefits of art as an outlet for expression
Agnes lin, osage group

The Osage Art Foundation (OAF), a non-profit organisation committed to building creative communities based in Kwun Tong, has come up with Pop!Site, three artist-led workshops in sculpture, painting and music for youngsters aged between six and 12.

Pop!Build, the first of the classes, was held last weekend, and saw sculptor Wong Tin-yan introduce children to basic woodworking as they turned scrap pallet wood into fun structures.

Art collective Dirty Paper, known for its humorous caricatures, will lead the second set of classes, Pop!Paint on Saturday and Sunday. Children will experiment with painting and crafting techniques to create life-sized portraits.

Pop!Sound (August 10-11) will be led by musician William Lane, who will introduce percussive techniques to help youngsters develop a sense of rhythm, listening skills and movement.

The children will also use recycled materials to create instruments making different types of sounds.

"The workshops are perfect for kids who want to express their creativity, who would be excited to work closely with full-time artists, who enjoy experimentation, and who like to have fun," says Osage Group founding director Agnes Lin.

The group administers two galleries, in Kwun Tong and Central, as well as running the OAF. "Certain skills are implicit in all art education. Through observation, perception, expression, communication, technical skills and creativity, children learn the life-long skills of open-mindedness, innovative thinking, technical skills and cultural awareness," Lin says.

Since 2005, Osage has collaborated with the Hong Kong Christian Service (HKCS) to deliver art programmes at the charity's nine nursery schools that serve more than 1,200 disadvantaged preschoolers. It is extending the scheme to sponsor 20 places for children from HKCS nursery schools.

"People are realising the benefits of art as an outlet for expression, as a way of developing creativity and open-mindedness, and as something with the power to break down cultural barriers and engage the community," Lin says.

Focus on Film, a charity that teaches young people about filmmaking, has been spicing up the school holiday schedule with several five-day programmes highlighting different aspects of the process.

Following a camp introducing the basics of film production, and another on creative screenwriting, the instructors are this week taking intermediate students through more advanced courses.

"Intermediate Film Institute" covers topics such as lighting, sound and editing techniques, while aspiring animators can opt for "Stop Motion Animation Camp", where they work in small teams to create short animated works.

Starting from developing characters, building sets, and doing storyboarding and editing, students contribute to every step of the production.

The programme concludes with a festival where participants can share their cartoons with family and friends.

Audrey Davidson, 17, has been hooked since joining the camp last year. "I found it easy to translate English school work into a script with a lot of dialogue, or a scene that could potentially be in a movie.

"The most interesting aspect about filmmaking is seeing the final product; how simple words on a piece of paper could be brought to life," Audrey says.

"The whole process of filmmaking is an unforgettable journey. Everything starts from a small idea that may come to you in your sleep. I love applying the final touches, like music, and bringing the whole movie together," she says.

Founded in 2006, Focus on Film aims to serve all children, particularly the disadvantaged. Besides offering outreach initiatives to run workshops for local schools, organisers also give financial assistance to students to attend the camps.

Founder Elissa Rosati hopes to use her background in arts education to benefit Hong Kong.

"There is a high level of education in Hong Kong. But it doesn't give a lot of room for creative education," she says.