Top Honours for Seven Singaporean Artists at the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award 2018
Cultural Medallion conferred on an internationally renowned jazz percussionist and vocalist, and a highly respected artistic director and choreographer
Young Artist Award recipients include a playwright, a visual artist, a sound designer, a dancer-choreographer, and a conductor and music director
Singapore, 23 October 2018 – The National Arts Council (NAC) has conferred the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award on seven distinguished local arts practitioners from varying disciplines. The Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award represent the highest arts accolades awarded to arts practitioners for their artistic excellence. This year’s recipients have created outstanding and distinctive bodies of work that have helped shape Singapore’s cultural landscape. Each recipient has also shown commitment to advancing Singapore’s artistic development for the benefit of society, through educating, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of artists.
2 Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth said, “Through the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award, we want to inspire our arts practitioners to greater heights. I congratulate this year’s recipients, not only for creating excellent arts experiences Singaporeans can be proud of, but also for their role in giving back to the community through education and mentorship. We will continue to support our artists and make the arts an integral part of all our lives.”
3 Mrs Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Council said, “I congratulate this year’s recipients for being outstanding leaders in their fields who have contributed significantly to Singapore’s arts and cultural landscape. Their work, which resonates with many at home and abroad, expresses who we are as a nation and people. They create and present works which are anchored in our multi-cultural heritage and represent new peaks of excellence and innovation. Their artistic achievements are an inspiration for all Singaporeans.”
4 The Cultural Medallion was instituted in 1979 and has been conferred on 125 artists to date. This year’s Cultural Medallion recipients are two prominent veteran artists, who have each flown the Singapore flag high through their work and have contributed significantly in their respective fields of jazz music and dance. They have shared their expertise and experience generously with younger artists, many of whom have also gone on to become household names.
5 The Young Artist Award, first initiated in 1992, recognises artists aged 35 years and below whose work has shown clear artistic vision and potential for continued excellence. To date, 154 arts practitioners have received this Award. This year’s five recipients are role models and have the potential to take on greater leadership roles, in their respective disciplines – theatre, visual arts, sound design for film, dance, and music.
6 Through the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award, recipients are encouraged to continue to grow in their artistic practice and nurture future artistic talents. They inspire other arts practitioners to offer Singaporeans impactful arts experiences that our audiences can relate to and be proud of. The Awards also help to raise greater awareness and appreciation of the works by our arts and cultural icons, positioning Singapore as a vibrant cultural city.
7 In recognition of their 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 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)
8 The Guest-of-Honour, President Halimah Yacob, presented the Cultural Medallion to two artists. They are:
a. Louis Soliano
Louis is one of Singapore’s best-known jazz musicians with an outstanding body of work spanning over 50 years. He is a prolific percussionist and vocalist, and has played with and accompanied international artists like Rosemary Clooney, Sarah Vaughan and Shirley Bassey.
Louis is an influential figure and role model, and has received several accolades for his outstanding works and contributions, including the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Singapore International Jazz Festival in 2014. He continues to be a prolific performer today.
b. Low Mei Yoke
Mei Yoke is the co-founder and Artistic Director of contemporary dance company, Frontier Danceland. A pioneer choreographer, she enjoys creating works that represent Singapore’s vibrant and diverse society, and is known for infusing a unique style blending Eastern dance aesthetics with Western dance movements into her work.
Mei Yoke’s works have received much acclaim in Asia and have been performed around the world. She continues to inspire a new generation of contemporary dancers as a resident choreographer and modern dance instructor at Nanyang Girls’ High School and Raffles Institution. Many of the dancers whom she mentored in Frontier Danceland have also gone on to play active roles in the arts scene.
Young Artist Award (YAA)
9 Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu presented the Young Artist Award to five recipients who represent a spectrum of disciplines such as theatre, visual arts, sound design for film, dance, and music. They are:
a. Faith Ng
Faith is a playwright with Checkpoint Theatre known for her strong voice and outstanding body of work. Best known for her critically acclaimed work ‘Normal’ (2015, 2017), her writing captures slices of Singapore life, raising awareness and creating dialogue around pertinent social issues. Her plays have received several accolades, including nominations for the Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards, and a collection of her plays was published in 2016. Faith has also worked with The Necessary Stage, Drama Box, and the Esplanade, where she has branched into writing for senior audiences as well as for children.
Faith teaches playwriting at the National University of Singapore and is actively involved in mentoring other young aspiring playwrights. She organises, facilitates and presents workshops and platforms aimed at supporting and nurturing young theatre makers.
b. Hilmi Johandi
Hilmi’s paintings push boundaries by incorporating synthesised images of film, archival footage and photographs, creating a distinctive style that explores temporal and physical dimensions. Besides reflecting his love for film, his works also highlight the social effects of rapid modernisation.
Hilmi has participated in several exhibitions, including holding his own solo exhibitions ‘Dusk to Dawn / Fajar ke Senja’ and ‘Framing Camellia’ in Singapore. His works have also been showcased at Art Stage Singapore and galleries around the world. Most recently, he is one of the five artists selected for the President’s Young Talents 2018, organised by the Singapore Art Museum. He is an adjunct lecturer for fine arts at LASALLE College of the Arts.
c. Lim Ting Li
Ting Li is a sound designer for film. She is the Director of Sound at Mocha Chai Laboratories, and has worked on sound design for many international commercial and arthouse feature films, earning multiple accolades for critically acclaimed home-grown films including ‘Sandcastle’ (directed by Boo Junfeng; 2010), and ‘Pop Aye’ (directed by Kirsten Tan; 2016).
Ting Li strives to shine a light on the craftsmanship and the pivotal role sound plays in filmic storytelling. She actively trains and mentors young practitioners, and conducts sound design workshops for various educational institutes in Singapore. She is a regular invited speaker at industry programmes such as Broadcast Asia and Singapore International Film Festival.
d. Sufri Juwahir
Sufri is an independent dancer and choreographer known for his diverse movement vocabulary. He is the co-founder of Soul Signature, a dance collective that seeks to redefine contemporary dance, while developing a new generation of young dancers.
Starting out in hip-hop, Sufri went on to join Maya Dance Theatre, picking up different dance genres including contemporary dance and the Indian classical form bharatanatyam, emerging as one of Maya’s most outstanding talents.
e. Zulkifli Mohamed Amin
Zulkifli’s passion for developing Singapore’s young aspiring musicians and inclusivity is what sets him apart from his contemporaries. Currently the Youth Leader at People’s Association (PA) Talents, he leads the Orkestra Melayu Singapore (OMS) youth wing as their music director and conductor, and co-founded Nusantara Arts with the aim of integrating literary and traditional arts.
The multi-talented Zulkifli wears many other hats as a musician, music director and composer. He is known for his fusion of traditional Malay and contemporary styles and has performed regularly in Singapore and overseas.
Plans for Grant Utilisation
10 Sharing her plans on how she may be utilising the Cultural Medallion Fund, Low Mei Yoke will be collaborating with a musician from Italy to present a new work at Frontier Danceland’s upcoming production MILIEU 2018. Young Artist Award recipient Zulkifli Mohamed Amin will be spearheading the formation of two new youth groups under Orkestra Melayu Singapore and leading the Music Discovery programme to introduce young musicians of all races to Malay music in traditional and non-traditional forms.
Past Award Recipients’ Contributions to the Arts Scene
11 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, visual artist Kray Chen, who received the Young Artist Award in 2017, used the funding support to produce his first medium-length film, 5 Rehearsals of a Wedding, which was exhibited at Objectifs during Singapore Art Week 2018. Singer-actress Asiah Aman (Nona Asiah), Cultural Medallion recipient in 2016, used the funding support to produce an album of her songs in new arrangements entitled LEGACY: The Musical Journey of Nona Asiah, performed by singers from the local music scene as well as young talents and beneficiaries of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, and launched in October 2018.
Please refer to the following annexes for more information:
Annex A – Profiles of the Cultural Medallion 2018 recipients
Annex B – Profiles of the Young Artist Award 2018 recipients
Annex C – List of Specialist Assessment Panel Members
Annex D – A Look at 39 Years of the Cultural Medallion
 The total number of Cultural Medallion awards conferred includes the 2018 recipients.
 The total number of Young Artist Awards recipients includes the 2018 recipients.