Literature is valuable as a medium of self-expression, a canvas for our imagination and a record of a community’s life to be passed down the generations. Whether through the written or spoken word, it captures our stories, experiences, aspirations as Singaporeans. Literature across our four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil also promote a greater understanding of our diverse heritage and cultures, allowing us to connect through shared stories.
A Dynamic Literary Arts Ecosystem
Contributing to our vibrant literary scene are literary professionals, including writers, poets, graphic novelists, translators, editors and illustrators, as well as diverse literary arts organisations across our four official languages, ranging from publishers and booksellers, to literary associations and programming intermediaries. Together with the key organisations supported by the National Arts Council (NAC) – The Arts House, the Singapore Book Council and Sing Lit Station – our literary arts organisations work to promote literary arts and creative writing, while championing the needs of various writing communities. Prestigious competitions are held regularly for writers to showcase their works, including the Golden Point Award and the Singapore Literature Prize, to name a few. Singaporeans and literary enthusiasts also look forward to the annual Singapore Writers Festival that presents the world’s major literary talents while shining a spotlight on homegrown and Southeast Asian creative talents.
Supporting Literary Excellence
To support literary arts practitioners at different stages of their development, NAC funds capability development programmes such as manuscript critiques, writing mentorships and local and international residencies. Through these opportunities, writers can hone their craft, professionalise and produce quality content and experiences that resonate with Singaporean and global audiences. NAC also commissions capability development programmes to address specific needs, e.g. Beyond Words to support the development of children's literature in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, and the Asia Creative Writing Programme to support intermediate and advanced writers in deepening their creative practice.
Increasing Appreciation for Singapore Literature
Over the years, our engagement efforts to cultivate interest and nurture a love for literature have become more targeted. NAC works with key government agency partners like the National Library Board, to shape programmes that cater to a wide range of readers’ interest, as well as with the Ministry of Education, to encourage early exposure and a sustained interest in literature through the curriculum. At the same time, Words Go Round reaches out directly to schools and educators to provide access to quality literary arts programmes in schools that complement the formal curriculum.
Literary arts draw people together, bridge differences and build connections in the community. An appreciation for original and translated works of historical and social significance across languages from Singapore and within the region, can foster cross-cultural understanding and allow us to develop a confident cultural identity.