Literature – whether through the written or spoken word – is valuable as a medium of self-expression, a canvas for our imagination and also of course, a record of a community’s life to be passed down the generations. Its importance extends to the larger creative sphere and across art forms. Its role in the larger cultural life of Singapore should not be underestimated and has much potential as the country matures.
The National Arts Council recognises literary excellence, community engagement and a dynamic literary ecosystem as the key building blocks of development in the literary arts sector. Besides supporting, developing and promoting Singapore literature, literary organisations and industry professionals through funding schemes, the Council has a range of programmes, initiatives and resources to develop the literary scene:
Literary Excellence – Encouraging creation of works and professional development
To encourage the creation of more children’s literature, the inaugural call in 2012 for picture books, chapter books and YA fiction entries in English and Chinese has led to more published works for our younger audiences. The second call in 2015 will develop works for children and young adults in Malay and Tamil.
Mentor Access Project (MAP) is a 12-month writing mentorship programme covering the genres of prose, poetry, plays and creative non-fiction. It aims to develop young and emerging writers in Singapore, in our four official languages of English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
This writing residency administered by the Toji Cultural Foundation provides the opportunity for writers to dedicate their time entirely to writing new literary works.
Administered by the University of Iowa, the IWP is the oldest and largest multinational writing residency in the world. IWP provides authors a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural opportunity and the time and space to read, write, translate, research, present works, and become part of the vibrant literary and academic community at the university and in Iowa City.
This residency empowers Singapore writers to take time off from their busy, urban lives to write. Open to emerging and established writers from Singapore in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, residencies take place in Gardens by the Bay, Fort Canning Park and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
The tertiary creative writing programmes offer a number of residencies each year to outstanding writers from Singapore and abroad. The creative writing programmes aim to develop a next generation of strong, emerging writers. Besides providing the Singaporean writers-in-residence with resources to develop new works, the programmes also enliven the literary scene in Singapore.
Community Engagement – Raising awareness of Singapore literature
Read Our World: SingLit Book Gift For Schools 2018 is a school outreach initiative aimed at cultivating a love for Singapore stories amongst the next generation of readers. Schools are gifted with 15 books that they can choose from a curated list of literature from Singapore, or affectionately known as SingLit, across genres, forms, themes and languages, with the objective of contemplating schools' existing reading resources, while catering to different reading competencies and interests.
Project LAVA (Literary Arts-Visual Arts) opens up avenues for Singapore artists to creatively interpret literary works by Singapore writers, and to present their writings in novel and intriguing ways. Past partnerships include Project LAVA in the Libraries and Project LAVA in the Communities.
Dynamic Literary Ecosystem – Getting to know the Singapore literary scene
Important events on the literary arts calendar include the Singapore Writers Festival and its school programme Words Go Round. The Festival, one of the few festivals in the world focusing on multi-lingual programming, with a strong emphasis on Singapore’s four official languages, brings together writers, academics and creative talents from Singapore and the world over, and features a variety of literary genres. Significant awards in the literary landscape include the Singapore Literature Prize, the biennial Golden Point Award, the premier writing competition for short story and poetry in Singapore’s four official languages, and the Anugerah Persuratan.