New Framework for Arts Spaces


New Framework for Arts Spaces


Goodman Arts Centre as pilot project


The National Arts Council (NAC) announced today a new framework for Arts Spaces to support the development needs of a growing and increasingly diverse arts sector, including new and emerging artists and arts groups. The arts spaces and facilities that are developed under this Framework will also serve as platforms where artists and arts groups can collaborate with each other, and interact with the wider public to bring the arts to the surrounding communities.  This new framework will be piloted with the NAC’s new Goodman Arts Centre in 2011, which has been redeveloped to include some 36 new shared facilities for hire and 49 spaces for lease to artists and arts groups. 


The Need for Change


The Arts Housing Scheme (AHS) was first introduced in 1985 to provide artists a home within which to develop their activities and thereby help foster a cultural vibrant society. Today, NAC operates 43 properties under the Scheme, comprising 5 multi-tenanted arts centres, 36 single-tenanted buildings and 2 co-located spaces in community buildings. These spaces have benefitted 135 artists and arts groups over the last 10 years in their artistic development, including the current 68 arts groups and 28 artists.  


However, the arts landscape has evolved tremendously in the last 25 years. From 2000-2009 alone, some 520 new arts companies and societies were formed. Feedback gathered showed that the current properties and Scheme were no longer adequate in meeting the needs of new and developing artists and arts groups, as well as the changing needs of some established arts groups as they seek to deepen their artistic contributions and expand their outreach. In addition, new working arrangements of artists and arts groups and new types of spaces in creative clusters or community facilities have also emerged. These present interesting opportunities for NAC and the arts sector to partner commercial or community stakeholders in developing new infrastructure solutions that will enable the arts to have wider impact.


With these in mind, NAC therefore embarked on a fundamental review of the AHS at the start of 2010. The process of review included extensive consultations with stakeholders from the people, public and private sectors over a period of 12 months. The Council held workshops and feedback sessions with over 120 artists and arts groups to understand the inefficiencies of the AHS, the needs of the sector, and to seek insights on how it could be improved or better designed to optimise use and relevance for both arts practitioners and the community. During these sessions, NAC also presented its initial findings and preliminary ideas to get ground sentiments. These responses and the ideas surfaced were critical in shaping the subsequent recommendations that led to the development of the new framework in place of the AHS.


Objectives and Outcomes of the New Framework

A key objective and outcome of the new framework will be that more artists and arts groups can benefit from NAC’s infrastructure support. For a start, the opening of the Goodman Arts Centre will make available some 49 new spaces for lease. NAC projects that over the next 10 years, with Goodman Arts Centre and a more optimal use of all the spaces, the new framework will provide opportunities for at least 250 artists and arts groups to directly benefit as tenants of NAC’s properties, more than double the existing number of tenants. Furthermore, a much larger pool of artists and arts groups will also benefit from the various shared rehearsal, studio, seminar and gallery facilities that will be available for hire, as well as plans to explore partnerships with suitable commercial and community facilities.  Looking forward, NAC has also identified new properties that could be redeveloped as arts centres, with a mix of shared facilities and spaces for lease. We will be undertaking more detailed feasibility studies of these properties and explore suitable operating models.


A second outcome will be greater responsiveness of the support and facilities to the different needs of artists and arts groups, to build capacity and enable sustainability at various stages of an artist or arts group’s development. The framework therefore proposes different schemes targeted at incubating newly established arts groups and young artists, supporting developing arts groups and artists towards greater sustainability and artistic growth, and enabling more mature arts organisations to champion the development of the artform and audiences.  


In terms of facilities, NAC will also redevelop the properties to ensure that they contain suitable spaces. After the redevelopment of the properties, artists and arts groups will no longer need to undertake administration and maintenance of the common spaces. The Council will undertake this for greater effectiveness and cost efficiency. Similarly, NAC will keep rentals affordable, while accounting for the rising costs of the long-term upkeep and repair works needed for the properties.


Last but not least, under the new framework, NAC aims for the public to enjoy and participate in the arts within their neighbourhoods. Stronger connections will be forged between arts and the community by housing or co-locating artists and arts groups in community spaces such as schools, commercial buildings. For the various NAC properties, NAC will also appoint place-managers who will facilitate greater collaboration among the arts tenants and explore relevant programmes with the artists and arts groups to engage audiences and the surrounding community.


Key Features and Enhancements under the New Framework

The Council will move from a one-size-fits-all AHS to introduce the following targeted schemes and support according to specific development goals to meet the growing and diverse needs of the arts community.

  • Incubation Scheme – This Scheme is targeted at new, young, fledgling artists, arts companies, associations and societies as well as community and amateur arts groups within their first three years of establishment to provide stability while artists and arts groups build their artistic and organisational foundation.


  • Scheme for Developing Artists and Arts Groups – This Scheme is targeted at providing artists and arts companies, associations and societies, community/amateur arts groups with more than three years of establishment, a measure of stability to achieve greater organisational and financial capacity, and to develop their artistic programmes.  These companies are willing to contribute to the collaboration within the arts centre or the wider community around the centre through their artistic development. 


  • Arts Centre Scheme – This scheme is targeted at mature, established arts groups or associations who have the capacity to take on the role of a sector or art form champion, and in operating facilities that can benefit the wider community, including shared facilities. These organisations will hold the head tenancy to properties as an arts centre, comprising facilities that are operated as a shared resource for, or supporting programmes targeted at building up the rest of the community, audiences or emerging artists. 


  • Co-location with Community or Commercial Spaces – NAC will look into matching artists and groups with communities where they can be involved in the project conceptualisation and design development of new civic spaces/facilities to create opportunities for the arts to connect with the public. Artists and groups can be housed within communities in civic centres.  NAC will facilitate co-location of artists and arts groups within commercial developments such as shopping centres or mixed used creative clusters. Existing facilities in schools, community and commercial buildings, vacant state properties are also spaces to be tapped through partnerships with relevant agencies and institutions.


  • Partnership for Storage Solutions – Storage and finding suitable affordable storage solutions are a challenge for many artists and arts groups.  However, this is also an area where there is substantial private sector expertise, as well as synergies with the media sector where there is similarly the need to make and store props and sets.  There may also be suitable warehouse or industrial spaces for such uses. As such, NAC is exploring to conduct a call for interest to seek proposals for such a facility, in which NAC will play the role of providing some level of seed support and facilitation to enable an intermediary to develop lower-cost storage options.  This can be a privately-operated facility open to interested artists and arts groups for storage, props rental/exchange and props-making.


Assessment for the schemes will take a holistic approach in considering the artist or arts group’s development goals, potential for growth, as well as their engagement of audiences or the wider community in their work. NAC will tap on our advisory panels for their input.


In implementing the framework, NAC will first pilot some of the relevant schemes at the Goodman Arts Centre in 2011. After the pilot at Goodman Arts Centre and any finetuning of the schemes, NAC will introduce the schemes under this new framework at existing properties only after the properties have been redeveloped and improved. This will take place in phases from 2011 to 2014, allowing existing tenants the necessary time to review and consider their future needs.


For each new or redeveloped property or cluster of properties, NAC will also introduce a place-manager.  This service will free tenants from taking on administrative functions and oversee physical maintenance of the common spaces. The place-manager will be responsible for day–to-day management of common and shared spaces, facilitate opportunities among tenants for collaboration and promote programmes that will encourage interaction with the wider community around the arts centre or arts belt. 


Pilot at Goodman Arts Centre

In addition to piloting the new framework at the Goodman Arts Centre (GAC), NAC’s office will be relocated to GAC to enable a closer working relationship with its arts and community stakeholders. As fellow tenant, the Council will experience first-hand effectiveness of the pilot scheme.


Leveraging on the mix of different communities in the locale, NAC envisions that the Centre will be a lively, energetic place where there is a strong sense of community, both amongst artists and arts groups, arts enthusiasts and the surrounding community. GAC will contain three types of spaces to facilitate this:

  •  Firstly, it will provide 4,646 sqm of work spaces of different sizes and configurations that artists and arts groups could lease for their studio, administrative and practice needs.
  • Secondly, there will be 3,615 sqm of shared facilities such as galleries, a black box, music and dance studios, and seminar and meeting rooms. These will be available to both tenants and other arts groups for their rehearsals, workshops, classes and other programmes. Some of these activities by artists and arts groups are expected to involve students, youths and other members of public who are interested in the arts.
  • Thirdly, the site will have open green spaces as well as selected commercial or food and beverage establishments. These will be accessible to the public, enhance the overall experience and encourage more to encounter the arts in a community setting.


With these facilities in place, the Centre will support the continual professional and artistic development of our artists and arts groups, particularly emerging practitioners and companies. More importantly, NAC hopes this new centre will bring about closer collaborations across disciplines, a greater sharing of resources, and a deeper engagement of the community in a manner that will inspire new ideas and new ways of art-making and learning about the arts.  It will also allow artists and arts groups to test their new content with audiences before they are eventually developed for more established performance venues in the city centre.


We have received an overwhelming response for the open call launched on 20 Dec 2010.  As Goodman Arts Centre is a pilot project for the new Framework for Arts Spaces and there is still  keen interest in the arts spaces among artists and arts groups after the 1 Feb 2011 deadline, NAC has decided to extend the deadline for submission of applications till 4 Mar 2011 (Friday).


A briefing on the new framework and site visit to GAC will be conducted on 22 February at 3.00pm. To register for site visit, please contact Chong Wei Lun: or tel: 6346 9423


NAC would like to thank all applicants who have already submitted their proposals in response to the first open call. Evaluation is in process and notifications of the outcome will be made by May 2011. Applicants are advised not to resubmit proposals as only single submissions will be accepted.


For more information, please visit the link here.




Annex A: Review of the National Arts Council’s Arts Housing Scheme

NAC’s review of AHS, including its findings, review process and the broad concepts under a new Framework for Arts Spaces to replace AHS.


Annex B: How Does the Framework for Arts Spaces Affect Me?

A useful guide to inform artists and arts groups interested in applying for support under the new Framework as well as those currently under the AHS of the impending changes and implementation timeline


Annex C: Information and application form for Goodman Arts Centre