About Both Sides, Now
BOTH SIDES, NOW is a community engagement project about what it means to live well, and leave well. Dying is a natural part of life, but many of us are afraid to talk about it. What are our options if we want to die with dignity? How can we plan for the end, regardless of our age? How can we talk to our loved ones about our values and choices?
We started exploring these questions in 2013, with an immersive arts experience at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital commissioned by Lien Foundation and Ang Chin Moh Foundation, and produced by ArtsWok and Drama Box. Visitors encountered artworks in the main foyer, ranging from short films to interactive installations, as well as performances. Through this experience, we wanted to create a safe space where people could reflect on their hopes and fears about living and dying, and empower them to start grappling with end-of-life issues.
In 2014, we continued our journey in Khatib and Toa Payoh, where we reached out directly to the community by creating new experiences for them in public heartland spaces. We staged a forum theatre play, Exit and a puppetry show, The Wind Came Home about end-of-life topics, including difficult decisions about managing illness, caregiving and death. We also engaged residents through participatory arts activities, installations and dialogue sessions.
From 2014 to 2016, we also visited 50 senior centres across Singapore, staging puppetry performances and facilitating conversations on end-of-life matters with seniors.
We are now embarking on a new phase of this project, with a multi-year presence in two different communities. This time, Lien Foundation, Ang Chin Moh Foundation, Drama Box and ArtsWok Collaborative are co-presenting the project, and in collaboration with community partners Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (Wellness Kampung) and Montfort Care (Good Death Programme).
The two communities chosen are Chong Pang and Telok Blangah, and the longer project time frame will allow us to engage these communities at a deeper level. Our goal is to build communities where individuals and families are supported in making informed decisions about end-of-life plans.
In order to achieve this new objective, our approach has shifted towards a community-based, arts-driven approach, which we hope will strengthen social ties and motivate sustainable involvement among community members. Developing community advocates has been a crucial aspect of the project. As such, there will be efforts to recruit even more volunteers, and preferably from within the communities. We will also devote efforts to training staff of our community collaborators on how to employ artistic or creative approaches for community engagement on end-of-life related topics, including developing resources for their use.
Over the next few years, we will be engaging the residents through arts workshops, activities and performances that will spark different ways of thinking, and having conversations about living and dying. Beyond these communities, we also hope our work will resonate with a larger audience, and spark the creation of more communities where living well and leaving well become part of everyday life.