Talk on Neoliberal Anxieties

Mohamed Shahril delivering his talk

Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Social and Policy Studies organised a talk titled “Neoliberal anxieties—Choral musicians and the national gig economy” on 25 June 2018 at Sungai Long Campus. Present at the talk were Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Social and Policy Studies Chairperson Assoc Prof Dr Chin Yee Mun, Faculty of Creative Industries’ R&D and Postgraduate Programmes Deputy Dean Dr Loo Hong Chuang, lecturers and students.

Speaking at the event were a local community choir, Vox Camerata Founder and Artistic Director Mohamed Shahril bin Mohamed Salleh who is currently a PhD candidate in the Division of Sociology at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research interest focuses on cultural aesthetics and production in Singapore. He is currently working on his dissertation which explores the relationship between State and arts practitioners, in specific context of choral music in Singapore.

“I take a look at the relationship between the state and the arts practitioner, more specifically I examine how arts practitioners themselves imagine their own individual and collective relationship and how this relationship informs them on making decisions and making aesthetic choices,” said Shahril.

He examined the current human resource processes of choral musicians as instructors, as well as articulated outcomes as demanded by schools vis-à-vis the state. He also argued that the policy changes have introduced additional precarity to choral musicians.

He discussed the methodology of his study whereby he used data from in-depth interviews, conducted among choral instructors and school teachers, ethnographic observation, official websites, policy directives and memos. He added, “I find that the livelihoods of the choral musicians are made precarious through institutional structures and policy enactments and that this emerging phenomenon is an unintended consequence of not only policy shifts but of the new demographic trends that affect local schools in Singapore.”

When asked on why he chose the topic, he said, “I am a professional classically trained musician and I studied in United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. On top of that, I see myself as a music academic and I believe that there is a need for us to re-examine the ways of how we see music in the context of reality.” 

Dr Loo presenting the token of appreciation to Mohamed Shahril

Second from right: Mohamed Shahril at the sharing session