Engaging seniors through online activities across languages and dialects

In today’s new normal, virtual arts festivals have become commonplace. And now joining numerous other events as they head online this Sep 1-13 is the annual Silver Arts, with a completely digital programming to ensure the safety and wellbeing of seniors during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

But if you think the virtual Silver Arts 2020 will pose as a challenge for the older generation(s), you’d be sorely mistaken. Presented by the National Arts Council, the festival dedicated to celebrating seniors and creative ageing in the arts have already been taking steps to ensure receptivity of this year’s online programmes among the elderly.

Since July, pre-festival activities incorporating digital means have been rolling out. These range from a dedicated one-stop Silver Arts WhatsApp channel offering programme reminders, exclusive perks and festival giveaways to participatory activities such as a digital sing-along session with Let’s Sing-along by TCR Music Station.

Seniors will also get to contribute to this year’s highlight programmes by submitting videos of their dance moves to the tunes of keroncong classic "Stambul Cha Cha", and selected submissions will be featured in the premiere of Keroncong Asmara by Wadah Seni Entertainment.

So seniors should look forward to a total of 15 daily programmes across the two weeks, with a diverse line-up of activities in English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and Chinese dialects—all of which can be enjoyed from home independently and/or with family members.

First, reflect on the good ol’ days with catchy Hokkien songs thanks to Old Songs of Redhill Market by Toy Factory Productions. The feel-good production explores the sights and sounds of Redhill, bringing its stories and rich heritage to life. Then, check out Keroncong Asmara by Wadah Seni Entertainment which invites all to sing along to the tunes of delightful keroncong songs, as well as learn about the history of keroncong together with singers from Peranakan group Gunong Sayang Association.

There’s also something for everyone thanks to the Asian Cultural Symphony and their Evergreen Symphonic Jukebox as they round up tunes from local dramas and folks songs in various languages.

Finally, another highlight is an engaging tribute to cultural icon Teresa Teng with A Music Legend of A Billion Applause by Ding Yi Music Company, as the talented musicians capture the essence of Teng’s vocals on Chinese classical instruments such as the pipa and di zi.

In this increasingly digital world, the key focus of this year’s festival is to engage artists, partners and senior care practitioners in open conversations about creating accessible digital content. To add to that, a two-part Arts & Ageing Forum webinar explores the theme of Engaging Seniors in a Digital Era, as artists such as Lee Sze-Chin and Lin Shiyun (3Pumpkins) share insights, approaches and considerations of engaging seniors through the arts digitally alongside international speakers from leading arts charities in the United Kingdom, Equal Arts and Magic Me.

So as the pandemic drags on which keeps seniors at home for their own safety, it’ll be important to keep them active with fun digital activities. After all, there’s no better way to stay out of harm’s way than at home upskilling and enjoying in interesting performances.

Silver Arts 2020 happens from Sep 1-13 via their Facebook page. More information available here.