Singapore’s Visual Arts Ecology
Singapore’s deliberate development of visual arts over the last two decades has resulted in the growth of a vibrant art scene with good infrastructure, a budding art market and a twofold increase in the number of art exhibitions and art organisations in Singapore. Today the public is offered a diverse range of activities to grow their passion for the arts and arts practitioners have more opportunities to realise their ambitions here and abroad.
An Emerging Art Capital with Top-tier Platforms and Resources
The last few years have been particularly exciting for Singapore with the emergence of new platforms such as Art Stage Singapore, Affordable Art Fair, and the Singapore Biennale, and facilities such as the Singapore Freeport (a high-security facility for the storage of fine art and goods).
Our museum landscape is also growing, with the Singapore Art Museum re-positioning itself as a contemporary art museum and the development of The National Art Gallery Singapore (to be launched in 2015) which will have a strong focus on Southeast Asian and Singapore art from the nineteenth century to the present. Prominent recent exhibitions by the Singapore Art Museum include the return showcase exhibition in 2010 of Ming Wong’s 2009 Venice Biennale installation Life of Imitation, APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2011, Amanda Heng’s solo exhibition Speak To Me, Walk With Me (2011), and The Collectors Show and Singapore Show: Futureproof in 2012.
The entry of major commercial platforms and Singapore’s continued presence on the international art stage through the Singapore Biennale and the Venice Biennale have signalled to the international art community that Singapore is committed to nurturing the arts and being part of a larger cultural discourse. Coupled with Singapore’s continued investment in its arts infrastructure and the mapping of a long-term national plan for the Visual Arts, Singapore is becoming an art capital that also serves as a gateway to Southeast Asian art.
Progressive Arts Education in Singapore
In tandem with these developments, Singapore’s arts education system is undergoing progressive improvements. The recent establishment of the School of The Arts, Singapore’s first national pre-tertiary specialised arts programme and the continued developments of arts institutions such as LASALLE College of Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts have expanded the scope of opportunities and quality of education available for aspiring arts professionals in Singapore and the region.
Singapore’s International Acclaim
Internationally, Singapore’s artists continue to garner acclaim, with contemporary artists such as Ming Wong receiving a Special Mention Award at the Venice Biennale 2009 , a precedent in Singapore’s art history; Ho Tzu Nyen being invited to participate at the Sundance Film Festival 2012 and at the Directors’ Fortnight of Cannes Film Festival in 2009; Charles Lim winning a Special Mention at the Venice Film Festival in 2011; Robert Zhao Renhui at the international Sony World Photography Awards 2010 in Cannes; and curator June Yap being invited to speak at Documenta 2012 in Kassel, Germany. These individuals represent only a small handful of a growing number of Singaporean artists who are making considerable headway in the international art scene.
As part of the state’s continued efforts to develop Singapore’s visual arts scene, 2012 will see the establishment of Gillman Barracks (formerly Gillman Village), a new contemporary art destination in Asia and within it, the Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore which will be a key programming platform housing an Exhibition Centre, an International Artist Residency Programme (Singapore’s first international incubation programme), and a Centre for Contemporary Art Research.
In addition to these developments, the National Arts Council will continue nurturing Singapore’s arts scene to develop a conducive environment where the arts is accessible to all and where artistic talent have the necessary resources and capabilities to excel and achieve long-term sustainability.
The Council recognises the significance of diverse forms of traditional, modern and contemporary art and provides support to a wide spectrum of visual art forms which focus not only on artistic excellence but also in developing community engagement and education. Various assistance and development resources are available to develop the local visual arts industry at all levels from the budding artist and emerging arts collective to the established artist or arts professionals and companies: