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Centre 42 & Sing Lit Station - Documentation on Arts Management


Organisation Transformation Grant Case Study

Centre 42 & Sing Lit Station - Documentation on Arts Management

Project Overview

Some people make art. Others enable the arts to happen. Backlogues is a podcast series of conversations about the evolving practice of arts management in Singapore. Jointly produced by Centre 42 Limited and Sing Lit Station, in collaboration with researchers Dr Hoe Su Fern and Dr Cheryl Julia Lee, the project is a public educational resource that documents and safeguards arts management knowledge in Singapore.

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There is a lack of critical documentation of the creative labour that enables the arts, particularly the practices, skill sets, and insights of arts managers and intermediaries. 

As a result, there is also a lack of knowledge-transfer and sharing of essential practices between seasoned arts managers, intermediaries and the wider arts ecosystem including artists, art historians and aspiring arts managers.

The Vision

The project aims to capture, organise, and safeguard arts management knowledge as a piece of intangible cultural heritage that might be passed down to the next generation.

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Outcomes in a Nutshell

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A pilot season of 9 podcast episodes and a web portal as a public education resource platform about arts management

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A mobile 4-mic podcast/audio recording facility in the Centre 42 office that is made open to arts practitioners. To date, the facility has been used by ArtsEquator, The Opera People, and several independent practitioners

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2 public workshops to familiarise practitioners with the facility and with audio production

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An audience survey on the pilot season of Backlogues

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A guidebook on how to access and use equipment/facilities and softwares


“This will be a valuable resource for Arts Management students to understand the Singapore cultural landscape. And it’s incredibly important as oral history. Thanks for documenting and archiving this experience!” — Kamini Ramachandran

3-2-1 Learnings

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

3 Must-Dos

Things you must absolutely get right

  • Form a collaborative team to work together and leverage each other’s strengths 
  • Set realistic expectations of the project vision and deliverables
  • Design a meaningful project that has positive impact to different stakeholders

2 Do-Next

Critical next steps to sustain the effort

  • Sustain knowledge sharing. Find ways to continue developing and sharing the content developed
  • Source for appropriate funds actively so as to further develop the project and sustain the effort

1 Do-Differently

What they wished they had done differently from the start

  • Have more than one contingency plan from the start, especially during a global pandemic and having to work within a time-limited grant scheme duration



Defined broadly as the practice of “enabling the arts to happen,” arts managers and intermediaries are vital enablers who support the arts ecosystem in multifold ways. 

Yet there is a lack of critical documentation of this creative labour, particularly around the practices, skill sets and insights of arts managers and intermediaries. 

The deep skills and knowledge involved in the support structures around art making, such as publishing, bookselling, editing, stage management and production, tend to reside in experienced individuals, and are acquired and transmitted via chance through one-to-one conversations or the crucible of trial and error. 

As a pioneering generation of stage managers, producers, publishers, booksellers, and cultural policy-makers eventually fades from the scene, documentation, knowledge transfer, and sharing arts management knowledge becomes even more critical.


The Vision

The project aims to capture, organise, and safeguard arts management knowledge as a piece of intangible cultural heritage that might be passed down to the next generation.

The project is intended to function as an indispensable public educational resource about the evolution of arts management in Singapore, while addressing the capability development gap in the industry in training arts managers to manage a wide variety of text-based works and programmes. Centre 42, in partnership with Sing Lit Station and lead researcher Dr Hoe Su Fern, realised this by developing a portal that archives Singapore’s intangible arts management knowledge via a series of podcasts recording case studies and interviews with experienced practitioners in arts management.

The project is a continual work-in-progress and should not be seen as being confined to a static and finite series of recordings uploaded to a portal, but rather as a long-term research and archival documentation project. 


The Journey

Discovery. Learning-by-Doing. Overcoming Challenges.

Copy of 13 Voice Clinic Masterclass by host Serene Chen



The team managed to conduct interviews and published episodes on the arts management practices of the following arts workers:

Additional interviews were conducted with Teo Swee Leng and Haresh Sharma as part of content research for the episodes above.

In a feedback survey conducted after the pilot season, Centre 42 received 19 responses. The following survey results constitute their Target Audience Satisfaction evaluation:

  • 100% of the surveyed respondents felt that Backlogues strengthened their awareness of arts management: 100% 
  • 94.8% of the surveyed respondents felt that Backlogues strengthened their knowledge of the arts ecosystem in SG
  • 100% of the surveyed respondents agreed that Backloguesis is a valuable resource on arts management in SG
  • 100% of the surveyed respondents agreed that Backlogues has a high production quality: 100% 
  • 94.8% of the surveyed respondents said they would likely to listen to future seasons of Backlogues



A Core Project Team was formed. The team comprised:

  • Primary Researcher: Dr Hoe Su Fern
  • Secondary Researcher: Dr Cheryl Julia Lee
  • Company Manager of Sing Lit Station: Charlene Shepherdson
  • Company Manager of Centre 42: Ma Yanling
  • Station Director of Sing Lit Station: Joshua Ip

Upon confirmation of the Organisation Transformation Grant (OTG) award, the following Project Team members were brought on board:

  • Content Producer: Akanksha Raja
  • Project Coordinator & Documentarian: Charlotte Tan
  • Research Assistants: Joy Lo, Jolin See, Stephanie Chan
  • Design and Website Developer: Daryl Qilin Yam
  • Podcast Host: Serene Chen
  • Sound Design and Production Collaborators: Ng Sze Min and Pan Zai En, Artwave Studio



The highlight of the project was the opportunity to collaborate and work with members of the project team, as well as to discover and document the intangible knowledge and practices of arts managers and intermediaries who were working in the 1980s to 1990s. 

In particular, the core team built closer relationships as members shared arts management knowledge and developed deeper insights into the other’s disciplinary space. This helped to foster a more holistic environment for supporting multi/interdisciplinary arts. 

Another highlight was the ability to use this project to provide employment to arts self-employed persons (SEPs), as well as learning opportunities for students and emerging arts workers. This was particularly necessary in a time of a global pandemic. 

“There was also palpable excitement to be able to install a mobile podcast and audio recording facility at Centre 42, learn to do basic audio recording as a mode of documentation from our collaborators Artwave Studio, and offer up workshops and masterclasses on audio/podcast production to other practitioners in conjunction with Backlogues,” said Ma Yanling, Company Manager for Centre 42.

The facility is not only for Backlogue’s use. It is also made available to other SEPs. This is also Centre 42’s way of being complementary to NAC’s Arts Resource Hub’s efforts to make 42 Waterloo Street a hub for freelance arts practitioners.



This project has been supported by NAC's Organisation Transformation Grant. For more information and resources on NAC's grant schemes, please visit: 

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