Arts & Culture

Music For A Cause: Singapore’s Altruistic Music Festival

Music for social impact

Words by
b-side staff

Music for a Cause, Singapore’s one and only altruistic music festival that encourages giving and volunteerism through music, is returning for its fourth edition from 3 to 4 August at the OCBC Arena Park, as part of the YOUTHx weekend.

B-Side speaks to Joe Tan, the founder of MFAC, to find out more.

Why did you start Music for a Cause, and how has this passion changed over the years?

I started Music for a Cause because I wanted to find a casual, yet impactful, way to generate public awareness of social causes or issues.

I wanted to change the landscape of giving from one that generally associates event success with fundraising targets into one that measures success through awareness generation and volunteer sign-ups.

More importantly, I wanted to use Music for a Cause to rally fellow Singaporeans to come onboard to give. Over the years, we are grateful to have local musicians, entrepreneurs, sports organisations, and this year, arts and creative agencies, onboard to build MFAC into a bigger and more inclusive space.

Personally I feel that my passion has not waned but rather, it has grown in the form of my desire to strive to grow MFAC year on year. In our first year, we only featured local musicians and F&B entrepreneurs. In the second year, we added products and services entrepreneurs, and in the third year, we added sporting organisations and bodies. This year, we are adding an arts element to it.

What drives me is how I feel MFAC is able to call on Singaporeans from various walks of life into one single space, for one purpose, and that is to generate social impact. That’s probably why I’ve continued to be passionate about MFAC. I guess finding the means to grow MFAC is what I feel has changed in me year on year.

You place a lot of emphasis on the importance of raising awareness, as opposed to funds, for social causes. Why is this important to you?

Having been in the giving scene for the past five years, I feel that there are many Singaporeans who genuinely want to give, but they are unaware on how to do it.

One of the biggest problems I see is that the relationship between donors and social causes is mostly transactional. The biggest worry I have is how this form of giving is being understood by our future generations.

I don’t want them to think that giving through money is the best way to give back to society.

That was why I decided to conceive MFAC — and also through my work at Love Action Project — to promote the idea of awareness generation as opposed to donations or fundraising.

The central idea is, it is through awareness that an individual can be exposed to social causes, and thereafter understand and build relationships or connections to them. The individual would be able to really understand what the social cause is about before committing to support it, be it through actions or funding.

This way, we offer everyone a chance to really understand social causes and build a more legitimate relationship so as to generate the right social impact for change before using dollars and cents to measure social-giving success.

What’s your elevator pitch to corporate and institutional partners?

Music for a Cause is Singapore’s first and only music festival that brings together everyday Singaporeans, musicians, entrepreneurs and, even creative people, into one space to promote an understanding and awareness of social causes in Singapore.

We make the idea of giving casual and cool, but at the same time, we focus on generating the right social impact for Singapore. Actions through understanding, beyond fundraising.

What can we look forward to at this year’s MFAC?

This year, MFAC will be held from 3 to 4 August at the OCBC Arena Park, where it will be featured as the Main Festive Village as part of YOUTHx Festival. This is a huge jump for us to be featured on the national level. We are also excited to be introducing an arts element to MFAC19.

Beyond that, we will have 13 artistes (headlined by Joanna Dong on 3 August, and Charlie Lim x YEO on 4 August), 16 social causes (twice the featured amount from last year) and 20 entrepreneurs.

In addition, we will have sporting activities on both days. Operation Broken Wing will hold the Team Rumble Cross Fit for a Cause event run on 3 August, and Cheryl Tan (The Breathe Movement) and Cheryl Lin (Eat Train Love) will collaborate for the first time to hold a two-hour yoga session on 4 August.

All proceeds will be given to the social causes they support. It’s going be a massive party, and we really look forward to it!

What are your future plans for MFAC?

We are already planning talks to bring the MFAC franchise to the ASEAN region.

Our plan is to make MFAC the Live Aid of ASEAN (and hopefully in Asia).

The idea is to bring everyone from ASEAN together, to give collectively to support the growth of the region, and most importantly, highlight how unity and understanding are, and will be, the backbone of social impact. This will then translate into prosperity and economic stability in our region. We have already started conversations with the ministries in Thailand, and we hope to make Bangkok our first stop next year!

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