2023 Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award Recipients with President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ms Jane Ittogi, Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law, Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chairman of the National Arts Council (NAC), Mr Low Eng Teong, Chief Executive Officer of NAC and Ms Lynette Pang, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of NAC.
- Cultural Medallion awarded to three individuals with invaluable contributions to the local Malay dance and literary arts scenes
- Young Artist Award conferred to five recipients who have been inspiring role models through their exemplary practices across disciplines
SINGAPORE, 5 December 2023 - Eight artists were conferred the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award at the Istana today. The three Cultural Medallion recipients and five Young Artist Award recipients made significant contributions to Singapore’s vibrant arts and cultural landscape across different art forms. They have achieved excellence in their respective fields of visual arts and film, literary arts and performing arts. The recipients’ artistic practices offer their unique perspectives on the intersections of art, history, tradition and the diversity of cultures. Collectively, they have helped to shape and define our distinct cultural identity over the years, drawing from the richness of communities within Singapore and around the region.
The Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award recognise outstanding arts practitioners who exemplify distinctive artistic talent while elevating Singapore’s position in the global arts sector. Guest-of-honour President Tharman Shanmugaratnam said, "I commend this year’s recipients of Singapore’s pinnacle arts awards for their dedicated craftsmanship and significant contributions to our growing arts and culture scene. Each of our three new Cultural Medallion recipients is being recognised for their explorations through life, and for inspiring many others, not least the next generation of artists.”
Established in 1979, the Cultural Medallion recognises individuals whose artistic excellence, as well as contributions and commitment to the arts, have shaped Singapore’s growing cultural landscape. Individuals conferred with Singapore’s top arts accolade have made significant strides locally and internationally, displayed extraordinary leadership and inspired younger artists.
This year, the Cultural Medallion was awarded to three individuals – Meira Chand, Osman Abdul Hamid and Suchen Christine Lim – for their invaluable contributions to the local Malay dance and literary arts scenes. This brings the total number of Cultural Medallion recipients to 135.
- Award-winning novelist Meira Chand has captivated readers worldwide with stories that reflect her multicultural heritage and explore themes around the multiplicity of cultural identities. Her novel A Different Sky (2010) set against the backdrop of pre-independence Singapore, was longlisted for the 2012 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s recommended reading list. Her recent works include Sacred Waters (2018), as well as an upcoming collection of her short stories which will be published this year. Deepening her connections and contributions to Singapore’s arts scene, Meira also wrote the story from which Singapore’s hit musical LKY: The Musical was developed.
Meira gives back to the literary community by dedicating time to mentor young writers through various programmes, such as the Singapore Book Council’s Emerging Writers Mentorship Programme (2023). She also actively participates in local literary activities and events, such as serving as a committee member of the Singapore Writers Festival Advisory Panel (2005 to 2010, 2021 to present); judging the Golden Point Award (2007, 2009, 2011 and 2019); and serving as Chairperson of the Singapore Literature Prize (2012). Meira was also a board member of the National Arts Council (NAC) (2015 to 2021).
- Veteran dancer, choreographer, artistic director, producer, and educator Osman Abdul Hamid is a trailblazer who has charted new frontiers in Singapore’s Malay dance scene. Cutting across disciplines, he has enthralled audiences with his interpretation of contemporary Malay dance, which are often multisensorial experiences. While his art pushes boundaries and explores unconventional choreography and styles, Osman still stays true to the essence of Malay dance as he champions the promotion and preservation of the art form. He has served as the Artistic Director of Era Dance Theatre since 2009, and has been the resident choreographer for the Malay Dance Group of the People’s Association (PA) Talents for over three decades, since 1992. As Artistic Director of Era Dance Theatre, Osman introduced Akar Subur in 2015 as an annual performance-based development programme to sustain and breathe new life into traditional Malay dance and celebrate its origins. In 2011, he played a leading role in spearheading Era Dance Theatre’s Muara Festival, in collaboration with the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, which has since grown into a yearly regional Malay Dance Festival.
He regularly represented Singapore on the international stage, such as leading the People’s Association Cultural Troupe (PACT) to perform in Japan at the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN in 1997, and representing Singapore for International Dance Festival in Thailand in 2009. His steadfast commitment to his craft and community has earned him multiple awards, including the Young Artist Award (1993) and the Public Service Medal at the Singapore National Day Awards (2018).
- Suchen Christine Lim is an award-winning author and one of Singapore’s most accomplished writers. She was the recipient of the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize in 1992 for her novel Fistful of Colours, which was the first Singaporean novel to be selected for the GCE A-level English Literature syllabus in 2007 and has been studied at universities. She explores themes of multiculturalism and interculturalism through her works, which are often set against significant historical events. A strong advocate for prose and literary fiction, Suchen has published numerous works for readers of all ages across her career spanning four decades, including novels, short story collections, non-fiction books, as well as children’s books.
Inspiring the next generation of writers, Suchen continues to mentor younger writers through programmes like the NUS Creative Arts Programme. She was a Fellow in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and later its Writer-in-Residence. In addition to arts accolades which include the S.E.A. Write Award, one of the highest forms of recognition for writers in Southeast Asia, Suchen was also inducted into the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations’ Singapore Women's Hall of Fame in 2014.
Young Artist Award
Instituted in 1992, the Young Artist Award honours practitioners aged 35 and below, in recognition of their impact to the community and how they continue to be inspiring role models who shape Singapore’s arts and culture.
This year, five recipients – Daryl Lim Wei Jie, Julian Wong, Melissa Tan, Shyan Tan, and Wang Chenwei – from diverse fields such as film, performing and visual arts were conferred this award. Beyond artistic excellence, each recipient embodies a deep sense of passion for their craft as they dedicate time to cultivate the next generation of artists. Including this year’s recipients, the Young Artist Award has been conferred on a total of 178 artists.
- Daryl Lim Wei Jie is a poet, editor, translator and literary critic whose poetry has been featured in multiple acclaimed poetry platforms and won literary awards such as the first prize for English Poetry at the 2015 Golden Point Award. He conceptualised and co-edited Food Republic: A Singapore Literary Banquet (2020), the first anthology of literary food writing in Singapore, and translated the works of Singapore Chinese poets Wang Mun Kiat and Chua Chim Kang, which were published in the literary journal Cordite. Promoting Singapore literature in Singapore and abroad, Daryl has curated literary exhibitions, such as Out Of Print at The Arts House in 2018, to showcase significant Singapore literary works and present contemporary reinterpretations of their covers.
- Julian Wong is a composer, arranger, music director, writer, educator and performer whose practice spans music and theatre. A recurring theme in Julian’s works is the championing of Singapore stories, where he prioritises time on original projects that display the Singaporean identity proudly on the world stage. One such work is his production with Wild Rice, Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita (2021), which was a tribute to the late Zubir Said’s songbook. He often collaborates with artists in the local arts community, taking charge as music director of Mark Chan’s Flight of Jade Bird (2012) in Hong Kong, and touring with local singer Kit Chan as her pianist for her Spellbound concert tour (2015 – 2016). Julian was also the composer for The Theatre Practice’s Day I Met The Prince (2016) which was an adaption of the French Classic The Little Prince. He was a recipient of the NAC Arts Scholarship In 2012, and received the Professional Music Excellence Award and the Alex Ulanowski Award while at Berklee College of Music.
- Melissa Tan is a contemporary visual artist whose works are based on nature and themes of transience and beauty of the ephemeral. Melissa has held six solo exhibitions and participated in multiple local and international group exhibitions, with her most recent project at the inaugural ART SG in 2023. She was the youngest participating artist in the 2016 edition of the Singapore Biennale: An Atlas of Mirrors. She also participated in several overseas exhibitions and residencies, including the Chatou, Île des Impressionnistes in France; Strarta Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery in London; and the Dena Foundation Artist Residency Programme in France, which was supported by NAC. With a heart for younger artists, Melissa actively provides internships and mentorship opportunities for younger artists to hone their talents and further their practice. At her studio at Goodman Arts Centre, she also participates in open studios and collaborations with other artists.
- Shyan Tan is a cinematographer whose works span across short films, telemovies and TV commercials, both locally and internationally. He has won multiple cinematography awards for his works at international festivals, such as the 2014 Asian Film Academy in Busan and 2022 Telly Awards in New York. Shyan currently serves as the Secretary for the Singapore Society of Cinematographers. In 2017, he participated in the prestigious Golden Horse Academy in Taipei. He hopes to effect positive change within the industry by bridging the gap between different generations of cinematographers and sharing their experience and knowledge with younger and aspiring filmmakers. In his decade-long career, he has worked with respected local directors such as K. Rajagopal, Wee Li Lin and Boo Junfeng.
- Wang Chenwei is a Chinese music composer and educator. He is the Composer-in-Residence of Singapore Chinese Orchestra, an adjunct faculty at the National Institute of Education and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and currently serves on the council of the Singapore Chinese Music Federation. He is dedicated to developing Singapore’s musical identity and empowering the next generation of composers and musicians. He explores the intersection of ethnic musical styles and influences as well as traditional music genres through his works, and regularly composes for local and international ensembles and orchestras, such as Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Ding Yi Music Company, and other professional orchestras in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. His scores have been performed, recorded and published by orchestras and music houses in Singapore, Taiwan and Shanghai, demonstrating the international recognition for his works. He received the Young Outstanding Singaporeans award from Junior Chamber International in 2011, and Local Classical Music award from the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS) in 2022 and 2023.
Besides recognising the contributions of artists through the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award, NAC has been partnering government agencies and cultural institutions to document, profile, and support the continued endeavours of our artists in commemorating the legacies of past and present Cultural Medallion recipients. These efforts include an ongoing showcase at The Arts House titled Our Cultural Medallion Story, and a national digital repository named the Singapore Online Arts Repository (SOAR). SOAR was created in 2020 in partnership with the National Library Board to support the documentation of arts content. The current collection has over 10,000 items to date, encompassing Singapore’s performing arts, visual arts and literary arts including materials from Cultural Medallion recipients. From sketchbooks to screenplays, posters and musical scores, these items are a testament to Singapore’s rich arts and cultural landscape.
As part of the Forward Singapore initiative and with the recent launch of Our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027), the Government will work even more closely with our artists and Singaporeans, to drive the arts in Singapore to new heights, by supporting and celebrating the endeavours of our artists, and developing a strong creative economy and sustainable arts sector with excellence as the bedrock.
High resolution images may be found in this Digital Media Kit: https://bit.ly/CMYAA2023