This weekend, I was invited on behalf of /stop@BadEndRhymes (“/s@ber”) to go and attend the first ever ‘Literary Arts Community Townhall’, held at The Arts House. It was an engaging and interesting experience and I just wanted to pen some thoughts about it.
The concept behind the Townhall would be for these representatives of the literary community – be it writers, youth, publishers, educators and members of councils et cetera to raise topics of concern for discussion, with the goal of finding a better solution to tackling these problems.
For me, I did do some research before I attended the Townhall as to what I wanted to say. I also asked around my own community for any concerns I should raise, in the hopes of improvement. As such, my main concerns became that of accessibility and diversity in writing and literary events – how do we best allow the most amount of people to participate?
Unfortunately, I was unable to raise all the topics I wanted to do, or even participate in the panels I was very interested in. This is no fault of the organisers, but rather due to the unique unconference format, which allowed for anyone to propose panels to discuss for essentially as long as they liked. In lieu of being able to attend the panel on diversity, for example, I spent almost an hour or so talking about the dearth of literary criticism in Singapore. Or perhaps, the lack of a ‘critical’ culture when it comes to our local literature, and how best to increase it.
Coming in with an open mind also allowed me to attend various panels I would not have otherwise attended, such as one on the culture of fear in Singapore, with our main local publishers sharing their own experiences as well as those of their writers. I also got to learn more about the intersection of tech and literature, and how they can be used to complement each other. I did feel a bit out of depth, being one of the youngest people in the room, but I felt like I learnt a lot.
All in all, a pretty good use of a Saturday morning (even if the haze was horrid). Would I attend again? Probably – I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone has acted on their suggestions, and how our literary community will continue to grow and develop.