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OUR CULTURAL MEDALLION STORY: HONOURING AND CELEBRATING SINGAPORE’S ARTISTIC TALENTS

26 Nov 2021

Opens today at The Arts House, the interactive showcase recognising the achievements of the recipients of the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest accolade for the arts.

CMYAA Story.2021-11-26

Singapore, 26 November 2021 — A dedicated showcase to honour Singapore’s Cultural Medallion recipients and celebrate their achievements opens to the public today at The Arts House. Officially launched by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Mr Edwin Tong, Our Cultural Medallion Story celebrates Singapore’s Cultural Medallion recipients and showcases their accomplishments through physical and digital presentations.

At the launch event, Mr Edwin Tong said, “Our Cultural Medallion recipients have enriched and distinguished Singapore’s arts and cultural landscape. They have also generously shared their expertise and knowledge with aspiring and younger talents in the scene. Through this showcase, important stories of their pursuit of excellence and resilience are told to Singaporeans and our future generations, to help us appreciate how we have come to be, and be proud to be Singaporeans.”

The Cultural Medallion was instituted in 1979 as an initiative of our late President, then Minister of Culture, Mr Ong Teng Cheong, to recognise individuals whose artistic excellence, as well as contribution and commitment to the arts, have enriched and distinguished Singapore’s arts and cultural landscape. The Cultural Medallion is presented by the President of the Republic of Singapore and administered by the National Arts Council (NAC). To date, the Cultural Medallion has been conferred on 130 artists. The Cultural Medallion recipients have access to funds of up to $80,000 to support them in their continuous pursuit of positively impacting Singapore’s arts and cultural development and engaging the wider community through their work.

The idea of a showcase was mooted after NAC’s conversations with the Cultural Medallion recipients on what could be done to better support the arts and culture sector. In commemoration of the Council’s 30th anniversary, commissioned by NAC and managed by Arts House Limited (AHL), Our Cultural Medallion Story is a multi-phased and collaborative effort among various agencies.

Mrs Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive Officer of NAC, shared, “This showcase complements the ongoing efforts spearheaded by our colleagues at the National Library Board to collect, preserve, and make accessible the documentary heritage of Singapore’s arts community. In developing the showcase, NAC continues to work and co-create with our partners to establish meaningful and impactful opportunities to support and celebrate our esteemed artists.”

An educational and interactive experience for visitors

AHL produced the first phase of the showcase with partner agencies such as the National Library Board (NLB), National Gallery Singapore and SPH Media. The showcase presents an opportunity for visitors to reflect on how Singapore’s arts and culture landscape has progressed over the years and honour the nation’s cultural icons who have played a role in shaping the development of the scene and inspiring generations of artists and audiences.

Visitors to Our Cultural Medallion Story will receive a Near Field Communication (NFC) token device to interact with selected sections of the showcase. The NFC token allows visitors to respond and provide input as they explore the showcase, sharing their preferences as they encounter stories about the Cultural Medallion recipients and learn about their outstanding contributions in areas such as literary, film, visual, performing and multidisciplinary arts.

As part of Our Cultural Medallion Story, audiences can also view a collection of short videos on the Cultural Medallion recipients produced by NAC since 2004 for screening during the annual Cultural Medallion Award ceremony. This series of videos featuring over 40 recipients offers a glimpse into the recipients’ creative journeys and experiences and will be updated each year with videos of new Cultural Medallion recipients. For the first time, also available for public viewing is the display of the Cultural Medallion coin, lapel pin, and certificate.

Visitors are invited to step into the creative worlds of the Cultural Medallion recipients through a selection of over 200 publications written by or about the recipients, provided as part of a collaboration with NLB. At the showcase, visitors can browse through these publications on display. If they are interested to read them in greater detail, they can also visit public libraries across Singapore to borrow a copy.

Another highlight is the interactive digital station where visitors can view images of selected artworks by Cultural Medallion artists collected through our National Collection. Visitors can also find out more about all the Cultural Medallion recipients through write-ups published by NAC and selected news reports about the Cultural Medallion Awards from the archive of SPH Media.

At the end of their experience, visitors can scan their NFC token at the Check-Out Kiosk for an ‘Art-inerary’ of Cultural Medallion related activities to explore next; recommendations made are based on visitors’ interactions at the showcase.

More details on the showcase may be found in Annex A.

Digital initiatives to document Cultural Medallion recipients’ practices

Selected content from the physical showcase has been adapted for its digital platform. The Our Cultural Medallion Story website (https://OurCMStory.sg) houses key information on the Cultural Medallion and its recipients, with links to relevant resources hosted by NAC and partner agencies such as NLB, National Archives Singapore and Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay. This site will be updated regularly with details on upcoming programmes and new works by Cultural Medallion recipients, and visitors may also take a 360° virtual tour of the gallery.

Our Cultural Medallion Story is one of NAC’s ongoing initiatives to support its Cultural Medallion recipients. Besides commissioning the showcase, NAC is working with NLB to develop the Singapore Online Arts Repository (SOAR), an integrated and comprehensive digital repository documenting the work of Cultural Medallion recipients, alongside other key artists and arts groups. Existing digitised materials on Cultural Medallion recipients continue to be accessible through the National Online Repository of the Arts (NORA) and new materials will be progressively added to provide Singaporeans with valuable insights into Singapore’s cultural history. Highlights of the repository will be featured on OurCMStory.sg.

Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive Officer NLB, said, “NLB, in its role as custodian of Singapore’s documentary heritage, has collected and documented the life and representative works of many individuals and organisations from the arts sector including our Cultural Medallion recipients. These contain print and digitised manuscripts, photos, scores, ephemera, and oral history interviews that record different artistic journeys. Through this collaboration to preserve and make accessible the archives of Cultural Medallion recipients, we hope that more Singaporeans can learn more about and be inspired by their stories and artistic journeys.”

A dedication to Singapore’s Cultural Medallion artists

Our Cultural Medallion Story and the rest of The Arts House will be spaces where visitors can enjoy and support creative activities by the Cultural Medallion recipients, such as book launches, exhibitions, talks, and workshops. The spaces at The Arts House are also available for Cultural Medallion recipients to utilise for artistic presentation, providing a dynamic and living space for Singapore’s top artists to further their artistic endeavours.

Tan Boon Hui, Executive Director of AHL, said, “Our Cultural Medallion Story will be integrated with The Arts House’s programming to provide a space where the public and Cultural Medallion recipients can gather and interact. The Arts House welcomes Cultural Medallion recipients to experiment, showcase, and share their works at various other facilities within this historic building. And at the same time, The Arts House invites the public to come and discover the world of our Cultural Medallion recipients.” 

To encourage and support Cultural Medallion recipients in sharing not just their art but also their art-making process and new ideas with the wider community, the recipients enjoy complimentary first-time use of the facilities offered at The Arts House (applicable for events open to the public that are not solely for a commercial purpose), and 50% off rental rates thereafter.

Our Cultural Medallion Story is located at The Arts House and is open to the public from 27 November 2021. Admission is free. For more information, please visit https://ourCMstory.sg.  

Media assets and images may be downloaded from the digital media kit.

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Annex A: Our Cultural Medallion Story Factsheet

Annex B: List of Cultural Medallion Recipients

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