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NAC scholar seeking funds for overseas living expenses

SINGAPORE — An up-and-coming playwright under the National Arts Council (NAC) scholarship programme is seeking to fund her living expenses while she studies abroad.

National Arts Council Scholarship recipient Nur Sabrina Binte Dzulkifli is organising a fundraising event #NotAnotherStarvingArtist at Artistry café on September 7 to raise funds for her living expenses while abroad. Photo: Andre Chong

National Arts Council Scholarship recipient Nur Sabrina Binte Dzulkifli is organising a fundraising event #NotAnotherStarvingArtist at Artistry café on September 7 to raise funds for her living expenses while abroad. Photo: Andre Chong

SINGAPORE — An up-and-coming playwright under the National Arts Council (NAC) scholarship programme is seeking to fund her living expenses while she studies abroad.

Nur Sabrina Dzulkifli will be pursuing her undergraduate studies in drama and literature at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom from October. She is organising a fundraising event, #NotAnotherStarvingArtist, at Artistry Cafe on Sept 7.

Sabrina, who is known for her work as a playwright in the local arts scene, said: “The NAC (scholarship) covers my tuition — it’s the only reason I’m still able to consider going. But I need a bit of help to handle living expenses while I get settled and find work.”

The NAC undergraduate scholarship covers up to 90 per cent of the total cost of overseas studies — including tuition fees, monthly maintenance and one-time return airfare — capped at a total of S$110,000 for the duration of the course.

Sabrina’s annual tuition fees are an estimated S$24,000. According to the University of Essex website, living expenses for undergraduate students can range from about S$13,000 to S$23,000 yearly.

The fundraising event page was posted on Facebook on Wednesday, and has already raised S$4,500. Sabrina hopes to raise S$10,000 to S$20,000. Speaking to TODAY, Sabrina said, “My family is in a tough situation at the moment, and I don’t want to put any extra burden on them.”

Sabrina’s parents are unemployed. Her mother, who was the sole breadwinner and used to work as an admin assistant, stopped work in March “because her company was restructuring”. Her father has been unable to work for a number of years due to medical reasons, she said, declining to elaborate.

When contacted, NAC’s director for education and development Grace Ng praised Sabrina’s efforts: “NAC wishes Sabrina well. She has demonstrated resourcefulness in taking the initiative to raise funds for her studies.”

Sabrina said: “(NAC) have done all they can to help me with my studies, so this is me picking up the slack.”

“With a fundraiser night, I figured it would be a nice way to be able to showcase what exactly people would be donating for, as well as connect personally with the people who would be donating to me,” she added.

The fundraising event will feature musical acts, poetry readings and the performance of an excerpt from Bi(cara), which Sabrina co-wrote with actress Sharda Harrison from Pink Gajah Theatre for the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2016.

The playwright will also present a new extract of a script in progress. There will be customisable poetry by donation, courtesy of spoken-word poet Cheyenne Phillips, and zines of Sabrina’s unpublished writings for sale.

Singaporean writer Daryl Qilin Yam said: “Raising the funds to help herself speaks volumes about her tenacity as an artist.”

Artistic director at homegrown theatre company The Necessary Stage Alvin Tan added: “I think it is a unique way of (fundraising for her studies), by involving Singaporean artists (the arts community) as it shows the arts community is taking ownership over its members’ future.”

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