Major Companies’ Engagement with Minister
On 5 August 2021, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and Ms. Goh Swee Chen, Chairman NAC, hosted an engagement session with over 80 arts leaders from 46 Major Companies (MCs), to discuss a range of topics. This included challenges and shifts due to Covid-19, sustainability and vibrancy considerations to explore how MCs can leverage on collaborations with partners and each other.
Participants were invited to go into four breakout groups for discussions, which were co-facilitated by Kok Heng Leun (Artistic Director, Drama Box), Dedric Wong (Assistant Conductor, Ding Yi Music Company), Charlotte Nors (Managing Director, Singapore Repertory Theatre), and Mae Anderson (Chairman, Art Outreach) together with NAC Management. The key points from the breakout discussions and responses can be found here.
45 Armenian Street
45 Armenian Street has been earmarked for renovation as an arts space in tandem with the upgrading projects for The Peranakan Museum and The Singapore Philatelic Museum in the vicinity. NAC sees the potential for 45 Armenian Street to be upgraded as a vibrant and inclusive multi-disciplinary arts centre with enhanced connectivity to the precinct which also includes the Singapore Management University (SMU). This vital arts and heritage precinct has also been much enhanced through The Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) pedestrianisation initiative. We are working towards the full reopening of 45 Armenian Street in 2024 and will explore the possibility of a phased reopening with priority given to the existing structures that could be upgraded in time with the opening of The Peranakan Museum.
NAC has commenced the engagement with multiple stakeholders, and expects to prepare the site for construction surveys from September. This is with the view to commencing construction works by early 2022.
NAC will concurrently engage the arts community and precinct partners to draw up the vision and design for 45 Armenian Street.
To better facilitate these conversations, NAC has invited a range of domain experts from various sectors to come together to form a Resource Panel which will lead the engagements, as well as provide guidance and feedback on the visioning of 45 Armenian Street. The Resource Panel has been invited to serve from June to December 2021.
The eight members of the Resource Panel comprises individuals with vast experience both in the arts and managing organisations, Ms Mae Anderson, Ms Janice Koh and Dr Jennifer Lee; independent arts practitioners, Mr Edward Choy, Mr Shaiful Risan and Mr David Siow; as well as precinct and education stakeholders, Mr Kennie Ting and Dr Venka Purushothaman. They are appointed for their experience and diversity of perspectives, as well as willingness to engage the wider community. NAC is deeply grateful to the Panel members for stepping forward with their time and expertise.
Presently, the Resource Panel is focused on planning and designing a differentiated and flexible engagement approach which will offer a range of opportunities for interested parties to contribute ideas and participate in discussions. Engagement sessions are scheduled to commence in the second half of August 2021 and NAC will be supporting the Resource Panel throughout the engagement process.
By December 2021, The Resource Panel will share key takeaways, insights and ideas for the future of 45 Armenian Street with NAC. NAC expects to present the proposed plans to MCCY for support as substantial resources will be required for the upgrading project that will yield significant increase in Gross Floor Area (GFA), enhanced connectivity and improved access for artists and audiences.
Do refer to this space for future updates on discussions arising from the engagements.
ENHANCED ARTS AND CULTURE RESILIENCE PACKAGE - NEW GRANTS
On 8 March 2021, Minister Edwin Tong announced a new $20M enhancement to the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) to enable continued support for arts groups and artists, as live performances and other cultural activities gradually resume, bringing the total Covid-19 support for arts and culture sector to $75M. Two new grants will be introduced as part of the enhanced ACRP namely the Self-Employed Person Grant (SEPG) for arts and culture freelancers as well as the Business Transformation Grant (BTG). Full details of the enhanced measures can be found here.
From April till May 2021, NAC has been engaging arts and culture stakeholders on their views to scope both the SEPG and the BTG to ensure that the grants are able to meet the needs of the sector. The first session to co-create and scope key parts of the SEPG was organised by the Arts Resource Hub on 8 April. It involved 25 participants including SEPs, SEP advocate groups, and representatives from arts organisations. Summary of the key topics can be found here.
6 engagement sessions on the OTG were organised in May 2021 to discuss the topic of transformation, and to co-design parameters of the grant. The sessions involved more than 100 stakeholders in the arts sector, including arts companies and cultural institutions. Key areas discussed included: challenges and opportunities with the evolving COVID-19 situation in relation to digitalisation, feedback on OTG grant design for example the need for flexibility to determine outcomes at the end of the funding period, as well as resources required to support transformation efforts. Full summary can be found here.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, NAC keeps in close conversation with the busking community to provide guidance and support. An engagement session was held on 28 April 2021 with 11 representatives from the busking community including the Buskers’ Association in attendance. Details of the session, Busking Scheme as well as past pilots can be found here.
STAYING RESILIENT AND EMERGING STRONGER
As we enter FY 2021, 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 last year. 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. NAC is 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 review every few years to ensure schemes continue to meet their objectives. The financial information of the Major Companies is available on 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 the year ahead. 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 had extensively consulted the arts community in drawing 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. NAC also engaged many artists and arts groups to respond to their needs in 2020. On arts spaces, NAC as a general practice 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.
19 March 2021
EMERGING STRONGER CONVERSATIONS
In June 2019 , Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat launched the Singapore Together movement, signaling a shift towards a Public Service that works together with citizens on goals and aspirations for Singapore. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the arts industry in Singapore greatly. With the Singapore Together movement, there is added impetus for the arts community to have conversations to learn from each other, and re-think how we can move forward. As Singapore and the arts sector slowly begin to re-open in a safe and calibrated manner, this crisis of our generation presents an opportunity for the sector to come together and reflect on what we have learnt, reimagine a future for the arts that we desire, and emerge stronger.
Read more about NAC’s Emerging Stronger Conversations here.
ARTS RESOURCE HUB
The Arts Resource Hub (ARH) was set up by NAC in August 2019 to provide arts freelancers in Singapore with the necessary resources to sustainably continue their practice, unlock new opportunities and grow meaningful careers. Freelancers are essential to the vibrancy of our arts eco-system as their varied skills and capacity contribute to a range of roles across the industry. Extensive consultations were held with over 370 members of the arts community in 2018 to better tailor the ARH’s offerings to suit their needs. Key concerns raised were challenges in finding job opportunities, a lack of legal knowledge and insurance coverage, fairness in hiring practices and easy digital access to resources. For more details on the genesis of the ARH, click here.
To provide arts Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) with an open channel to ask questions on existing COVID-19 support measures available, ARH organised a series of one-on-one call chats from 24 March – 3 April 2020, for arts SEPs to speak with NAC staff over Zoom. These consultation sessions were extended with the roll-out of the Arts and Culture Resilience Package where a series of Ask NAC! sessions were organised for artists to dial in through a group setting, and a total of 72 SEPs were engaged. Ask NAC! group sessions were re-launched in April 2021 and details of the schedule and points discussed can be found here.
NAC also met with Centre 42 and some arts Self Employed Persons (SEPs) on 8 September 2020 and 16 April 2021 to provide updates and get feedback on the renovation plans for 42 Waterloo Street. The key points from their discussion can be found here and here.
CULTURAL MEDALLION AWARD
In August and September 2020, NAC organised three virtual sessions to engage and gather feedback from Cultural Medallion (CM) recipients. As it has been 40 years since the CM award was instituted, it was timely for NAC to hear from award recipients and key stakeholders, as well as to discuss a consolidated approach to better support and profile recipients.
In line with the wider arts and culture sector’s efforts to celebrate our cultural icons, it was also announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong on 8 March 2021 at the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate that a new dedicated CM Gallery will be launching in Q4 2021 at The Arts House. More details of the COS announcement can be found here.
ARTS AND CULTURE RESILIENCE PACKAGE
Since March 2020, NAC has shared about the various COVID-19 support measures to the arts community through regular updates published on NAC’s website. This was accompanied with over 40 engagement sessions involving nearly 600 artists and arts companies.
In June 2020, more than 200 artists and arts organisations were invited for further discussions and preparations for Phase 2, as we learned to live and adapt to this new world. These sessions also served to update the arts community on the packages within the Fortitude Budget that they can benefit from.
Read the latest updates about NAC’s work to sustain the arts during COVID-19 here.
OUR SG ARTS PLAN (2018 – 2022)
Our SG Arts Plan was developed in close consultation with the arts community and other stakeholders through more than 40 engagement sessions. From February to September 2018, NAC reached out to over 700 people from diverse backgrounds, including arts practitioners, intermediaries and institutions, educators, volunteers, and representatives from the public and private sectors. Their insights contributed towards the formulation of the draft Plan. Views from the wider public were also sought over a three-week period in September 2018.
As a result of the collective efforts and valuable inputs from the engagements, Our SG Arts Plan (2018 – 2022) was launched by then Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on 19 October 2018. The full document and details can be found here.
Introduced in 2010, Let’s Connect! is a platform by NAC for sharing best practices, creating networks and discovering common good for community partners, artists and anyone interested to engage the community through the arts. Recent sessions have been held one to two times a year, covering various topics including activating community spaces through the arts, designing programmes with the community in mind, and increasing people’s ownership of the arts. More details of platforms and capability development opportunities can be found here.
ARTS AND CULTURE STRATEGIC REVIEW (2010)
The Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts (ACCA) was set up in 1988 to examine the state of arts and culture development in Singapore and to realise the vision of a culturally vibrant society. Building on the recommendations of the ACCA, a series of three Renaissance City Plans (RCPs) was launched in 2000s.
In 2012, the Arts and Culture Strategic Review (ACSR) was initiated to plot Singapore's arts and culture blueprint all the way through to 2025. After extensive consultations with artists, the private sector, and members of the public, a report was published outlining the broad strategic directions for the growth of arts and culture in Singapore. Read the full ACSR report here to know about the long term vision and recommendations.