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Lease terms for arts spaces have not hindered development of vibrant scene in Singapore: NAC

We thank Dr Hoe Su Fern for her views on the redevelopment of 42 Waterloo Street and the arts scene in Singapore (“Can Singapore’s arts community build a sense of place amid shifting cultural policies?”; Feb 27).

Lease terms for arts spaces have not hindered development of vibrant scene in Singapore: NAC

All arts tenancy spaces, including Goodman Arts Centre where NAC itself is sited, have hitherto been on lease terms, the agency says.

Yeoh Phee Suan, Director, Marketing, Communications and Digital Strategy, National Arts Council

We thank Dr Hoe Su Fern for her views on the redevelopment of 42 Waterloo Street and the arts scene in Singapore (“Can Singapore’s arts community build a sense of place amid shifting cultural policies?”; Feb 27). 

The arts landscape has grown significantly in the last 25 years with close to 5,000 arts and culture companies and societies today.

Many of these groups have professional teams and strong boards and have received a charity or an Institution of a Public Character status, in addition to funding from the National Arts Council (NAC).

Dr Hoe’s citing of the late Kuo Pao Kun’s series of questions emphasises the need to support people-initiated arts projects. We believe this is indeed reflected in today’s vibrant and diverse scene. 

Dr Hoe's point about Arts House Limited (AHL) managing more arts venues as proof of concentration of resources in the state needs to be clarified.

AHL was set up as a company limited by guarantee under the NAC, to manage arts venues more efficiently. For the record, AHL manages five arts venues: 1) Aliwal Arts Centre, 2) Goodman Arts Centre, 3) Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, 4) Drama Centre and 5) The Arts House, while NAC manages the Stamford Arts Centre.

These venues have been historically managed by the state as venues for hire or arts housing spaces.

All arts tenancy spaces, including Goodman Arts Centre where NAC itself is sited, have hitherto been on lease terms. This has not hindered the development of the healthy and vibrant arts landscape today.

The reality is that with a flourishing arts scene comes growing demand for spaces, among other resources.

The upgrading of 42 Waterloo Street is aligned with NAC’s intent to broaden support for all freelancers in the arts.

NAC will continue to support Centre 42, a company which has been nearly fully funded by NAC since 2014 when it responded to NAC’s call for a theatre development intermediary. 

As this need remains, NAC has renewed our funding support for Centre 42 to focus on this core mission for another three years.

Waterloo Street is a key arts and heritage district and home to many diverse art forms supported by NAC.

NAC will step up efforts on place making to work with the cultural arts groups and institutions in the precinct, including Dance Ensemble of Singapore, The Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore, Objectifs – Centre for Photography & Film, The Theatre Practice and Design Singapore Council.

Together, we can programme meaningful and varied cultural activities that more Singaporeans can enjoy. The Singapore Night Festival is an example of successful precinct-wide activation.

We believe Centre 42’s mandate as an intermediary to grow art-making is not diminished or at odds with the introduction of the Arts Resource Hub at 42 Waterloo Street.

We continue to see their roles as complementary, and hope to welcome more practitioners to the space after the renovations to the site.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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arts NAC Goodman Arts Centre artist

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