Breakthrough: WCAF 2014 – Making art, building community

The second We Can! Arts Fest, Breakthrough, put together by a committee of volunteer Change Makers, was made by youths for youths in celebration of diversity and the freedom to be the unique individuals we all are.


“They said… But I…” was the caption accompanying each of these photos, prompting individuals to speak up about their own stories of breaking free from stereotypes

The second We Can! Arts Fest, Breakthrough, put together by volunteer Change Makers, looked at the gender-based issues that affect youth. In celebration of diversity and an inclusive youth culture, this much-anticipated event attracted over 200 attendees. The audience, largely made up of youngsters, were treated to an array of activities including interactive installations and booths, performances put up by talented youth artists as well as a series of workshops and discussion panels. Most of the artists, panelists, performers and volunteers were youth, and this was a space for them to speak up about their experiences and have their views heard.

Taking place at Singapore Management University, the event had a casual, upbeat and positive vibe. Whether it was art, music, dance, theatre or personal sharings, every segment was thought-provoking, creative and engaging.


One interactive installation, the Breakthrough board, was designed and built to tie in with the event’s slogan. Participants were encouraged to write media-inflicted body stereotypes they wished to break free from on balloons before throwing them against the board of nails and “bursting” the expectation, so to speak.


Other activities at Breakthrough: T-shirt stenciling, Stepping Stones installation, Handprints Against Violence and Pretty Ugly.

Other booths at the event included T-shirt stencilling with empowering slogans like “I’m a size awesome”, a photo booth linked to our newly launched Instagram page and an installation marked with colourful handprints and individual pledges against gender-based violence. The Stepping Stones installation invited attendees to build a path to a gender-equal society through writing or drawing their ideas for positive change on pebbles and adding them to the growing collection. The University Lounge was bustling with activities and spirits were high.

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There were also performances specially produced and staged for this event by youth, including a queer feminist band from Kuala Lumpur, Shh…Diam!, an applied theatre collective, Shoes Theatre as well as dance performances by Change Makers from UWC Tampines’ campus group, Because I’m A Girl. One of the highlights was a spoken word performance by participants of Body/Language, a creative writing workshop series run by We Can! and Etiquette SG over the last few months. Another high point was the multimedia performance + installation put up by Interrobang, a group of mainly 16 year-olds who wanted to show how daily microaggressions contributed to a culture of violence. The different pieces by the youth groups explored important topics like masculinity, bullying, dating violence and slut shaming.

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Alongside art and performance, Breakthrough also saw various sharing sessions, panel discussions and workshops put together by youth. The morning workshops empowered participants to use writing to recreate their worlds in gender-equal ways. The afternoon sessions aimed to create safe spaces where young people could freely express their thoughts and views about the issues that affect them. Some of the issues discussed were body image, beauty standards and eating disorders; gender identity and sexual orientation; and the representation of women and girls in local horror stories. Participants also had the opportunity to watch local films and discuss the marginalisation of sex workers and trans* people in Singapore. In the Human Library segment, they heard from a genderqueer person about the need to rethink the gender binary, discussed misogyny in the army, listened to the experiences of young domestic workers in Singapore and took in the account of a dating violence survivor. We believe that by encouraging young people to speak up and listen to each other, we can create a more reflective, thinking, and empathetic community of youth who are sensitised to issues that affect their peers and are willing to take action for positive change.

Breakthrough was a heartwarming event that raised important issues through inviting youth to share art, build community and find solidarity in each other’s experiences and struggles.

Check out the Photo Gallery for Breakthrough here!