NAC remains committed to championing the arts sector to stay resilient and emerge stronger. Key aspects of our priorities have been shared in conversations with the arts community and are outlined:
Growing and Sustaining the Arts – Over the past 25 years, NAC has developed an understanding of the different contributions and objectives of our major companies as well as emerging arts groups. Today, the creative sector has more
than 4,000 organisations, of which more than 200 are key arts organisations, including 50 major companies.
We have in place various funding schemes, and augmented them with new ones in response to COVID-19 challenges in 2020. These seek to ensure that we enable the work of our diverse arts groups and artists. NAC has also stated that, to be more sustainable in the long term, it is important for artists and arts companies to diversify their sources of income. Singapore’s arts sector, like the whole non-profit scene, needs a viable mix of public funding, private sector partnerships, and revenue from the organisation’s activities and programmes.
NAC takes a holistic view of all government funding, including funds from the Cultural Matching Fund (CMF) and income tied to our subsidised spaces. We are also committed to championing the arts with agencies in other sectors to provide greater possibilities for the arts, in the belief that the arts inspire Singaporeans and bring communities together.
Supporting Major Companies – We are committed to profiling and supporting the work of major companies (MC), which are leaders in the maturing arts landscape. We regularly review our schemes for sustained and multi-year funding.
The scheme has been named differently over time, but the objectives remain to support the professional and artistic development of registered arts organisations that represent excellence in their core mission. It was most recently reviewed in 2017 and three tracks, art making, outreach or serving the sector, were introduced to recognise that arts organisations have different roles, strengths and contributions to the scene.
The MC scheme was further refined in 2019 to support baseline operations sustainably. Changes to the scheme take into account the evolving needs, experiences and feedback from recipients. All MCs are briefed at least one year ahead on any refinements to be made. Our regular reviews have allowed the MC scheme to be tailored more closely to the unique characteristics of each company. We ensure that all companies that are recipients of multi-year funding under the MC scheme meet the eligibility criteria.
We continue to support the diversity of our MCs in their specific area of focus and work. As with other government policies, we undertake a review every few years to ensure schemes continue to meet their objectives. The financial information of the major
companies is available on the Charity Portal.
Diversifying Funding Sources – NAC made a robust case for the government to support the sector through the COVID-19 challenges throughout 2020, and this is further enhanced in 2021. In total, the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) will bring $75 million of additional funding to support our arts organisations and Self-Employed Persons (SEPs). We have successfully boosted private giving through the launch of the stART fund for the smaller arts organisations. We are now seeking to make a compelling case for Ministry of Finance to top up the CMF, which has already been drawn down by $265 million. This significant quantum clearly indicates that the CMF has been a game changer for the sector in diversifying support beyond government funding. This is testimony to the value of the arts.
Managing Arts Spaces – Today, there are multiple space management models. NAC currently offers highly subsidised arts spaces by absorbing at least 80% of the rates set by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) under its annual operating budget. NAC will need to optimise these spaces within its means, while unlocking new public and private spaces through innovative approaches. One solution is to move towards co-location and sharing of facilities so that more in the arts community can have access and benefit from limited resources.
For tenanted spaces, the broad principles behind Framework for Arts Spaces (FFAS) have been communicated with arts tenants since the implementation of the policy. The design of the scheme was derived from extensive engagements in 2010 with the arts community. As part of an open and competitive approach, the FFAS is intended to benefit new and existing players through a fair merit-based process. NAC also remains committed to ensuring the upgrading of infrastructure and to secure the resources required as such costs should not be borne by arts tenants.
Activating Spaces – The 2010 review allowed NAC to manage, maintain and upkeep arts spaces so as to free up the energies of artists and arts groups to focus on their work. We will continually improve the design of arts spaces to support arts tenants in activating their spaces.
In the next edition of Our SG Arts Plan from 2023, NAC will work closely with all stakeholders who support the arts scene as we envision how arts spaces can better serve Singapore’s evolving arts landscape, its audiences and arts practitioners going forward. Besides the arts community, harnessing the support of more stakeholders will complement NAC’s limited resources in supporting the growing arts landscape.
Profiling the Arts Sector – NAC undertook a COVID-19 Arts Consumption Study and will be sharing the positive findings shortly. New audiences were built through digital and hybrid presentations and there had been much support for local artists from Singaporeans. At the same time, digitalisation allowed for new possibilities in extending our international collaborations and networks. NAC hopes that such efforts will constantly affirm the value of the arts.
Engaging the Arts Community – In 2018, NAC extensively consulted the arts community to draw up the inaugural edition of Our SG Arts Plan. Throughout 2019, NAC closely engaged the arts community to design and set up the Arts Resource Hub to serve SEPs in the creative sector. We also engaged many artists and arts groups to respond to their needs in 2020.
On arts spaces, as a general practice, NAC closely engages artists and arts groups on tenancy conditions, and ensures that any changes are communicated to tenants more than a year in advance. NAC will continue to forge constructive conversations and active engagement with our diverse arts community so that the sector can emerge strongly from the COVID-19 challenges and grow our audiences together.