Six Singapore Artists Receive Highest Honours at the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Awards 2017



Cultural Medallion conferred on a highly celebrated author and playwright, and an internationally renowned composer


Young Artist Award recipients include a poet and writer, a conductor and composer, a multi-disciplinary artist, and a dancer-choreographer


Singapore, 24 October 2017 – Six artists from various artistic disciplines have been conferred the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award today. Administered by the National Arts Council (NAC), the awards recognise the recipients’ extraordinary contributions towards shaping a distinct, vibrant arts scene in Singapore, advancing their fields of arts practice and for bringing Singaporeans from different communities together through the arts. Each artist has also demonstrated a commitment towards educating, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of art makers; making a lasting impact through the numerous educational and community development efforts they actively promote and participate in.


2          Two distinguished veteran artists, who have demonstrated artistic excellence and professional maturity through an outstanding body of work, were conferred the Cultural Medallion. The Young Artist Award was also accorded to four artists aged 35 years and below, identified as having the potential to play a greater leadership role in Singapore’s artistic development.


3          Says Mrs Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Council, “The Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award recipients represent the pinnacle of Singapore’s artistic excellence and cultural creativity. As leaders in their fields who have contributed significantly to the rich tapestry of Singapore’s arts landscape, they inspire budding artists and Singapore audiences alike. We are proud to celebrate their achievements which will go a long way in profiling Singapore on the global arts stage.”


4          In recognition of the recipients’ artistic achievements and aspirations, all recipients will receive support for their future artistic pursuits and development, as they continue their efforts to advance Singapore’s arts and cultural landscape, as well as engage the wider community through their future projects. The Cultural Medallion Fund allows each respective recipient to access an amount of up to $80,000, in support of a single project or multiple projects over the recipient's lifetime that meet the Fund's objectives. The Young Artist Award Grant provides an amount of up to $20,000 to support each recipient of the Award in continuing their artistic pursuits and development – for example, through arts projects or studies that have a positive impact on the recipient’s artistic growth, or on Singapore’s arts scene.


Cultural Medallion (CM)


5          The Guest-of-Honour, President Halimah Yacob, presented the Cultural Medallion to two artists. They are:


a.      Djamal Tukimin (b.1946)

Djamal Tukimin is an author, critic, playwright and researcher, with a career spanning 50 years. He is best known for his poetry in the Malay literary arts scene in Singapore and the wider Malay Archipelago. Active in promoting poetry and literature to the public, he has won awards for his contribution to the arts over the years, and was recently conferred the Archipelago Poet Award by the Prince of Songkhla University (Thailand) in 2015.


b.      Law Wai Lun (b.1944)

Law Wai Lun is a composer, educator and mentor, well-known for his versatility in his compositions and music arrangements which reflect artistry, thought and imagination. He is widely recognised for his contribution to the development of the ‘Nanyang Style’ in Chinese orchestral music. In addition to his extensive work with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), he has also been commissioned to compose epic works presented at the Singapore Arts Festival, Huayi Festival and the National Day Parade. He has also won numerous awards, with the most recent being the Artistic Excellence Award 2017 by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS).  



Young Artist Award (YAA)


6          Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu presented the Young Artist Award to four recipients. They are:


a.      Joshua Ip (b.1982)

Joshua is an award-winning poet, editor and literary organiser. He has published four collections of poetry with Math Paper Press, most recently, footnotes on falling (2017); as well as co-edited seven anthologies, among them the ‘SingPoWriMo’ series (2014-2016). He co-founded the Singapore Poetry Writing Month in 2014, and founded Sing Lit Station in 2016, a literary non-profit organisation that seeks to develop Singapore’s writing scene. He has been featured at numerous home-grown and international literary festivals, and has organised workshop programmes for young poets.


b.      Kahchun Wong (b.1986)

Kahchun is an orchestral conductor and composer. He has been featured multiple times by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), where he was Conducting Assistant from 2011 to 2012. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Asian Contemporary Ensemble. Beyond Singapore, Kahchun has been a guest conductor of many internationally renowned orchestras across Asia and Europe. As a strong advocate of music education, Kahchun is the co-founder of Project Infinitude, a grassroots initiative committed to guiding and encouraging children from diverse backgrounds in their first musical steps. Kahchun was the winner of the 5th Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition held in 2016, and has recently been appointed as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra beginning from the 2018/2019 season.


c.      Kray Chen (b.1987)

Kray is a multidisciplinary artist whose works are based on three main themes – Memory, Body and Inertia. Kray’s works are largely inspired by everyday life in Singapore, and are presented through video, film and interactive installations. His works have been exhibited at various platforms including Art Stage Singapore, Singapore International Film Festival and FRAC Des Pays De La Loire, France. A lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts since 2013, Kray has also been involved in curatorial work. Kray was the Prudential Singapore Young Artist Finalist in 2014.


d.      Yarra Ileto (b.1982)

Yarra is a dancer and choreographer trained in modern dance and classical ballet. Through her past work with major dance companies in Singapore, including T.H.E Dance Company and The Arts Fission Company, Yarra has performed, led classes, created new works and facilitated outreach programmes for the elderly. Yarra is currently teaching at LASALLE and NUS Dance Synergy. As an independent artist, Yarra has choreographed works that have been showcased at different festivals and platforms.


Plans for Grant Utilisation


7          Sharing his plans on how he may be utilising the Cultural Medallion Fund, Mr Djamal Tukimin said, “I am looking at organising a literary gathering with my fellow counterparts for the exchange of ideas and to discuss my past works.  I am also planning to publish more novels, poetry and compilation works in the future.”


8          YAA 2017 recipient Mr Kray Chen said, “I am exploring using the YAA grant to cover the production costs for an upcoming film which I am currently working on.”


Past Award Recipients’ Contributions to the Arts Scene


9          Over the last few years, past Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award recipients have utilised their awards funding to inspire audiences in Singapore through varied arts experiences. For example, musician Chua Yew Kok, who received the Young Artist Award in 2013, presented a two-day pipa recital in May 2016 at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Lee Foundation Theatre. Poet Lee Tzu Pheng, Cultural Medallion recipient in 1985, used the funding support to publish three collections of poetry and prose in 2012 – Sing a Song of Mankind, Catching Connections and Short Circuits.



Please click here for the following annexes for more information:


Annex A – Profiles of the Cultural Medallion 2017 recipients

Annex B – Profiles of the Young Artist Award 2017 recipients

Annex C – List of Specialist Assessment Panel Members

Annex D – A Look at 38 Years of the Cultural Medallion