NAC Announces 25% Boost In Fresh Funds For One-year Major Grant Groups in FY2011


25% boost in fresh funds for one-year Major Grant groups in FY2011


$1.92 million investment to propel 16 arts groups to new levels of professionalism


The National Arts Council (NAC) announced today that 16 arts companies will be the beneficiaries of $1.92 million through its one-year Major Grant scheme in FY2011. They will receive the grant in quanta ranging from $48,000 to $227,500. This is a 25% increase compared to the $1.54 million disbursed in FY2010.


In FY 2011, including the $3.27million that was earlier committed to the 12 two-year Major Grant recipients, a total of 28 arts companies will benefit from a combined funding of $5.19 million under the Major Grant Scheme.  In addition, 20 recipients of the one and two-year Major Grants are currently also receiving rental support of $1.41million to defray market rental for their respective premises under the Arts Housing Scheme.


There are 16 successful applicants for the one-year Major Grant, of which Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, a Malay literary arts company, is a new recipient of the grant. These include four theatre companies, three music companies, three dance companies, two Chinese opera companies, two literary arts companies, and two visual arts companies. Among the 16 companies, six recipients are from the traditional arts sector.


The recipients are:

1.Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 (Literary Arts)

2.Bhaskar’s Arts Academy (Traditional Arts/Dance)

3.Cake Theatrical Productions Ltd (Theatre)

4.Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore (Traditional Arts/Visual Arts

5.Chinese Theatre Circle (Traditional Arts/Chinese Opera

6.City Chinese Orchestra (Singapore Ltd) (Traditional Arts/Music)

8.Frontier Danceland (Dance)

9.National Book Development Council of Singapore (Literary Arts)

10.Teater Ekamatra (Theatre)

11.The Chinese Opera Institute Ltd (Traditional Arts/Chinese Opera)

12.The Philharmonic Winds (Music)

13.The Substation Ltd (Multi-disciplinary)

14.Toy Factory Productions Ltd. (Theatre)

15.Wild Rice Ltd (Threatre)

16.Young Musicians Society Ltd (Music)


Objectives of the Major Grant Scheme

The Scheme was first introduced by NAC in 2000 in response to the recommendations of the Renaissance City Report released in the same year.


The Scheme provides funding to a select number of outstanding and distinctive arts organisations, assisting in their long-term artistic and administrative growth. It seeks to develop a portfolio of key arts organisations that serve as hallmarks of excellence in the artistic landscape of Singapore, providing quality programmes, contributing substantially and critically to the development of best artistic practices, professional expertise and audience engagement in Singapore and overseas markets. The Scheme also aims to develop traditional arts organisations which promote the ethnic and cultural vibrancy of Singapore's arts scene, provide quality programmes, and play a significant role in their specific area of art form or specialisation.


Assessment of Applications

All Major Grant applications were assessed by Assessment Panels comprising specialists in their respective artistic fields appointed by the Council. The Panels examined the criteria of artistic/professional capabilities, engagement with audiences, internationalisation and organisational excellence. The Panels also looked at reports of past performance and financial reports, as well as reviews and other relevant articles. In addition, the Panels were also informed by regular monitoring reports by external assessors who had been appointed by the Council to review the presentations, exhibitions, productions and other work of the applicants throughout the year.


The Panels then deliberated and submitted recommendations to the Council which made the final decision on the outcome of the application and grant allocation. 


Building Capacity and Developing Capabilities of the Arts Sectors

The 25% increase in funding to $1.92 million for FY 2011 will benefit all art forms. The increased funding is aimed at building capacity and developing capabilities of our arts sectors. 


Of the 16 arts companies, 13 will receive an increase in the funding quantum, one will be a first-time recipient of the grant (i.e. Angkatan Sasterawan ’50), one will receive the same amount of funding as FY2010 (i.e. the National Book Development Council of Singapore) and one will receive a reduced amount from FY2010 (i.e. Wild Rice Ltd). In the case of Wild Rice Ltd, the level of support as a percentage of its total expenditure, as well as the funding it will receive for its operations, remain unchanged. A higher level of support is also granted to its young talent development programme (Young and Wild) at approximately 50% of the programme cost.


In general, NAC has allocated funds to areas necessary for strengthening the companies’ management and better positioning them for artistic growth. Additional funding has been allocated to some companies to develop their arts administrative, organisational and fundraising capabilities, allowing them to engage the necessary full-time arts managers or undertake marketing initiatives. Funding has also been allocated to companies to help them embark on further professional training and artistic collaborations in identified areas, so as to catalyse their artistic growth. In addition, NAC also considered its levels of financial governance, as well as its income sources. This is to ensure that public funds can be well accounted and are contributing towards longer-term sustainability of the company.


NAC also took into account the company’s potential contribution and unique role within the arts ecosystem and the relevant sectors – be it in reaching out to young talents, developing audiences or championing a particular sector or art form. For example, increased support to the Substation was considered to support its growing suite of programmes to develop and promote the arts, and in particular to enhance its role in incubating new talent and arts projects.


In line with the National Plans for the Literary Arts and Traditional Arts, NAC has also allocated additional funds to drive development in these sectors. For example, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 will be a first-time recipient of the one-year Major Grant. It has been identified by the Assessment Panel and NAC as a key literary arts organisation to develop the literary arts scene. In the area of traditional arts, a total amount of $662,000, which is an increase of 46% in funding, has been set aside. This increase is aimed at addressing fundamental organisational development needs of the six traditional arts companies, so as to professionalise their administration, and to enable the companies to give greater focus to training and nurturing next-generation  talent and practitioners.


Review of the Major Grant Scheme

The Major Grant scheme has been pivotal in the development of a pool of professional arts groups, particularly in the theatre arts. However, as our arts landscape grows and matures, there is a need to re-assess the developmental needs of and opportunities for our arts groups. Since the introduction of the Scheme in 2000, the number of registered arts companies and societies has doubled, with the highest rates of growth in music, visual arts and multi-disciplinary practices.  The arts landscape has also diversified in the last 10 years: audiences have evolved together with our population demographics; new ways and genres of art-making have emerged; and there are more commercial as well as not-for-profit intermediaries in both the arts and the related creative sectors of popular entertainment, design and media sectors.


As such, besides supporting our more established arts groups achieve their next phase of their artistic and organisational development, one challenge, moving forward, is to identify and groom emerging practitioners and promising arts organisations. Secondly, there is also scope to develop new peaks of artistic excellence across the art forms, and for more varied career and development pathways in this changing arts landscape for arts organisations and practitioners. A third challenge will be to encourage and support active participation in the arts by more Singaporeans, be it playing an instrument among friends, performing as an amateur group, or learning a craft.


NAC is thus embarking on a fundamental review of the grants assistance framework to address these challenges and opportunities. This review will consider holistically the Major Grant Scheme as well as other funding schemes currently offered. In the coming months, NAC will be seeking feedback and ideas from the arts community and other stakeholders in developing the new framework. We believe that changes to the current assistance framework are necessary for the future growth of  arts practitioners and organisations, and for the arts to play a more integral role in enhancing the quality of life and shaping  cultural development in Singapore.


Annex A: Quantum received by one-year Major Grant recipients for FY2011

Annex B: Contacts of one-year Major Grant recipients for FY2011

Annex C: Major Grant Assessment Panels