Traditional arts across the performing arts, form a common language for Singaporeans to connect with one another within diverse communities. On a national level, traditional arts comprising the deeply rooted cultural and artistic expressions from each of our major ethnic groups, play a vital role in strengthening our cultural identity. At the personal level, traditional arts provide a focal point for Singaporeans and artists to explore their roots as a rich source of inspiration and innovation to develop distinctive content.
A Culturally Rich Landscape
The traditional arts scene in Singapore is vibrant, with a healthy base of artists and organisations including the national company, Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Over the years, our traditional arts practitioners have built upon the foundations of our heritage to reflect upon the unique characteristics and collective stories of the various communities in Singapore. While retaining the longstanding traditions, artists have also tapped on the potential to challenge and adapt the traditional art forms to present relevant works that audiences can resonate with, especially in exploring multi-cultural themes in a common language through the arts.
As the arts evolve and become increasingly multi-disciplinary, an increasing number of traditional arts practitioners have also innovated and rejuvenated their craft, generating new interest in the art forms as well as paving the way for collaborations with contemporary art forms. This is a broad overview of the key organisations in our traditional arts landscape groups according to the main ethnic groups:
Chinese Dance, Music and Opera/Theatre
Chinese Theatre Circle, Dance Ensemble Singapore, Ding Yi Music Company, Nam Hwa Opera, SAtheCollective, Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre, Siong Leng Musical Association, The TENG Ensemble, Traditional Arts Centre
Malay Music and Dance
Indian Music and Dance
The National Arts Council (NAC)’s support these key organisations as well as other key players of the traditional arts scene, to enable them to professionalise their operations and build capabilities. Our support focuses on enhancing artistic skills for individual artists, upgrading of administrative and management capability of these groups, while improving research and archival efforts to document the traditional arts for future audiences.
To promote traditional arts to a wider audience, the Stamford Arts Centre, a multi-disciplinary arts centre with a focus on traditional arts and The Esplanade also present programmes and festivals to increase the visibility of traditional arts in addition to NAC’s Traditional Arts Taster programmes that reaches out to young audiences.
Beyond the national and personal impact, the traditional arts are an important facet of Singapore’s distinctive identity. As our traditional arts scene adapt and transform their practices, the values and beliefs that continue to guide us will pass down through generations to build an inclusive Singapore society.