Amidst the social isolation brought about by the pandemic, art continues to bridge us closer together.

For more than half a century, Shell Pilipinas Corporation (SPC) has inspired Filipino youths to showcase their artistry and creativity through the annual Shell National Students Art Competition (NSAC). At the forefront of championing arts in nation-building and values formation, Shell NSAC has continually mounted exhibits to showcase the works of young Filipino artists to reach more audiences and recognize the talents of these students.

Because of COVID-19 pandemic, mounting the 53rd Shell NSAC was no easy task. But the organization knew that art – and the hope it could spark – was needed more than ever. To overcome the many risks and limitations brought about by the pandemic, Shell NSAC had to innovate and recalibrate the entire competition experience to continue the legacy that paved the way for many National Artists and other renowned artists.

For the first time in its history, the competition was done entirely online. From the launch of the year's theme to the submission process, to Virtual Art Interacts and mentoring, to screening, judging, and finally the awarding, the competition maximized every online opportunity and platform to reach young artists from all over the country.

The first step was the competition launch, which kicked off the months-long event. Traditionally, this was done through various on-ground channels but because of pandemic restrictions, the 2020 NSAC was instead announced across Pilipinas Shell’s various online channels and platforms. Different art organizations on social media were also tapped to reach even more student artists.

Because of the implemented restrictions and new virtual school set-ups, the 53rd NSAC campaign was primarily purely digital. Interactive online campus blitz materials to substitute the bulletin announcement posters were produced. There was a digital museum that simulated actual museum tours to further engage the audience and participants.

Through a hardworking team of community managers and secretariats, all competition information and guidelines were cascaded to audiences. To ensure continued participation and to aid students who were struggling through the steps of the competition, there were regular check-ins and work-in-progress digital submissions. A seamless and organized system for submission of artwork was also developed and executed, resulting in the successful collection of hundreds of entries from all over the country.

In total, there were 1,764 submissions from 259 schools. This blew the previous years’ average ratio (1000 entries from 30 schools) out of the water, with the massive increase in participating schools a major achievement for the milestone run.

The 53rd Shell NSAC provided a new platform for the participants to experience the competition. It overcame the number limitations caused by the pandemic, steadfast in its pursuit of nation-building and discovering artists to deliver messages of hope.


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