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Measures to support arts sector during Covid-19 outbreak will be stepped up if necessary: NAC

We refer to Dr Hoe Su Fern’s commentary on the need to support artists and arts companies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. We agree that like many other sectors in Singapore, the arts sector has been severely affected.

The Five Stones — a public art project comprising large-scale inflatables — seen in the civic district as part of Singapore Art Week in January 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore.

The Five Stones — a public art project comprising large-scale inflatables — seen in the civic district as part of Singapore Art Week in January 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore.

Low Eng Teong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Sector Development, National Arts Council

We refer to Dr Hoe Su Fern’s commentary on the need to support artists and arts companies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic (“Helping the Singapore arts sector survive the Covid-19 crisis”; April 23).

We agree that like many other sectors in Singapore, the arts sector has been severely affected. The arts sector, like most other sectors, has been included under the three successive government budgets. 

Right now, the Jobs Support Scheme offers the same level of wage support to the arts sector as all other sectors in the months of April and May. 

The arts sector also benefits from other national schemes, such as the Wage Credit Scheme and the SkillsFuture Credit top-ups that seek to help companies with training, cash flow and protect jobs for Singaporeans. Eligible artists, too, can tap the Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme for three quarterly cash payouts of S$3,000.

The arts sector further benefits from the S$55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on April 7. 

The ACRP will continue to offer support to arts organisations in defraying operational costs, as may be necessary in the months ahead. The ACRP goes beyond direct funding to create jobs and provide upskilling opportunities to sustain the livelihoods of those in the sector as well as to position them competitively for a strong recovery in the post-Covid-19 situation.

As Dr Hoe pointed out, digitalisation offers exciting new possibilities in arts creation and presentation. Under the ACRP, the Digitalisation Fund supports ground-up applications, commissions with strategic partners, and new works for our major festivals and programmes. 

While digital experiences cannot replace live arts experiences, they are ways to engage our audiences at this time and offer possibilities to enhance live experiences in the future. 

This is also the trend internationally, as highlighted by Dr Hoe, and we must advance our arts sector in the same trajectory to profile it strongly in a crowded international scene. All quality digital works will be profiled as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign on A-List.Sg, an integrated platform to showcase the best of Singapore’s arts and culture digital offerings.

We have strongly encouraged arts companies to apply for extra funding for capability development programmes, either as trainers offering their expertise or to participate in training to attain new skill sets. 

All eligible National Arts Council (NAC) arts tenants have been granted a two-month rental waiver. 

NAC has further continued to sustain the same level of funding to arts organisations under our Major Company scheme without requiring them to meet the regular physical attendance and participation targets, as we well understand the challenges they face during this time. 

Our grants for research and creation continue to be available for those who wish to take this time for creative processes of reflection, writing and research.

We believe that the measures are responsive to the needs of the arts sector at this time, and will step up support should the situation evolve in the months ahead.

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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