Applications for the Digital Presentation Grant (DPG) and the Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA) have closed as of 14 September 2020, 5pm. For details on NAC Grants, please visit: 


NAC Emerging Stronger Conversations with the Arts Community

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.


On 1 Dec 2020, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong hosted the Emerging Stronger Conversation with the arts community, including stakeholders such as arts companies, representatives from our cultural institutions and partners from the technology/digital sector. During the session, the arts community discussed how the future of arts would look like in the new normal, and how the sector and government can work together to progress effectively in the post-pandemic world for a “better” normal. The key points from the discussion were:


  • Digitalisation needs to be an innovative and collaborative effort

    With COVID-19, digital and blended presentations have become the way forward, providing new ways of experiencing the arts for audiences. The digital space has provided both opportunities and challenges for local arts groups. The online space has helped arts groups transcend physical boundaries to reach audiences, particularly during the Circuit Breaker period when many free programmes were offered to the public. However, there is a need to rethink arts business models for arts and culture offerings to be presented to audiences in a sustainable manner, such as monetising digital works and the protection of intellectual property in the digital space. Arts groups would also need to build their capabilities to increase the production quality of their digital works, and to be innovative in finding new modes where digital formats can complement and enrich physical arts offerings for audiences. Collaboration between the partners in arts industry and the digital and technology sector is therefore necessary in order to enable the arts sector to grow and thrive in this new normal.

    Ultimately, digitalisation complements rather than replaces physical events and performances. While the pandemic has pushed the arts community in growing its digital capabilities, human connection and physical participation remains an important part of the arts sector.

  • Strengthening outreach to our audiences and partners

    While the online space has enabled arts groups to expand their audience outreach, there is competition from burgeoning international arts content and other forms of digital media. It is necessary to consider new ways to retain and grow these audiences, both online and in physical spaces. This can be achieved by innovating new forms of audience experiences. Hybrid solutions, such as a blended experience of live and digital presentations, may also strengthen the community’s outreach to audiences, as audiences still value real life interactions and look for new forms of arts experiences.

    Additionally, participants discussed the importance of joint solutioning within and outside the arts sector, and building public-private partnerships for the sector. These partnerships can strengthen the industry’s existing capabilities to adapt quickly and find new ways to reach audiences.

  • Strengthening knowledge and resource sharing, within and beyond the arts sector

    The arts community also highlighted the importance of sharing resources in order to safeguard the livelihoods and capabilities of the sector. Smaller arts groups and artists especially require support from arts sector and technological partners in order to build the infrastructure and capabilities to pivot to digitalisation. There is a need to find new ways to collaborate and share knowledge between the arts community and the private sector partners on various issues, from safe management measures, to resources and venues or spaces, to creative and technological capabilities. Finally, clustered and shared solutioning is necessary to address the specific and shared concerns of the arts community, whether within their disciplines or across the sector. Deeper conversations involving different types of stakeholders would be necessary to promote knowledge and resource sharing, so that the arts community can survive and thrive in the new normal.  



What will the future of the arts look like in the new normal







NAC Emerging Stronger Conversations with the Arts Community: Arts & Creative Self Employed Persons

On 11 Dec 2020, the Chairman of the National Arts Council Ms Goh Swee Chen hosted the Emerging Stronger Conversation with arts & creative self-employed persons (SEPs), including stakeholders such as key advocates for freelancers and leaders of ground-up initiatives. During the session, participants discussed how the future of arts & creative SEPs would look like in the new normal, and how arts & creative SEPs can thrive in the post-pandemic world. The key points from the discussion were:


  • Digitalisation has provided both opportunities and obstacles during COVID-19

    As arts and creative SEPs started moving their work online, they found both new opportunities and challenges in the digital sphere. The online space has helped SEPs connect with audiences during the pandemic, and expanded possibilities for international collaborations. However, participants noted that going digital also resulted in an increased workload due to the new skills required to independently present digital works, and at times without additional remuneration. It is important that arts and creative SEPs are supported with the capabilities to work online to generate revenue, while concurrently relooking at how audiences appreciate and value the arts in this new format of delivery.


  • Support systems need to be in place to protect arts and creative SEPs

    Participants were appreciative of the current grant schemes, such as the Digital Presentation Grant (DPG), which enabled arts workers to pivot to the production of new, digital content during the pandemic. However, enhancing the capability of freelancers, including legal knowledge, IP rights, etc were identified as important areas to ensure the sustainability of  arts and creative SEPs during the pandemic and beyond. Participants also suggested to have more opportunities for independent artists to present their works beyond major festival and platforms, to support the creation of works and sharing of resources among SEPs, which will help to develop capabilities and establish collaborations within the ecosystem.


  • Building local and international eco-systems for SEPs to flourish

    Besides government schemes - community support, self-help and connections among SEPs allowed them to respond swiftly to changes during COVID-19. SEPs were also energised by cross-sector collaborations for art-making, and hoped for more of such opportunities to be available. COVID-19 had also brought on unexpected collaborations with international artists, allowing for mutual learning beyond geographical borders. arts practitioners who gained skills and experience internationally could more actively share their learnings with others, to build capabilities for the local arts eco-system. Such mutual learning and collaboration need to be in place for SEPs to develop holistically in their careers.
What will the future of arts and creative SEPs look like in the new normal




[NEW] ACRP Operating Grant


MCCY will be providing an Operating Grant under the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) to support arts and culture organisations, and those in closely-related sectors. Eligible arts and culture organisations will receive a one-off ACRP Operating Grant of either $75,000 or $50,000 which they can use to defray their operating costs, and the grant amount depends on the size of their organisation. This grant is expected to benefit over 300 organisations. 


For more information, please click here. NAC will be reaching out directly to eligible organisations by mid November 2020 to notify them about their eligibility for the grant. 



Update on key issues raised to NAC on support for the arts community 


On 17 August 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat shared Singapore’s strategy on continued support for jobs and creating new ones, furthering support for sectors that are hit the hardest, and positioning Singapore to be ready to seize growth opportunities in a post-COVID-19 world. A total of $100 billion support from the four Budgets (Unity, Resilience, Solidarity and Fortitude) announced in early 2020 has helped tide businesses and individuals during this period. A support package of $55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) was announced in April 2020, to provide support and opportunities for our arts organisations and artists, and help them develop longer-term capabilities for the post COVID-19 recovery.


Through the ACRP, NAC has:


To-date, over 11,000 job and training opportunities have been committed for the ACRP. This includes the Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA), the Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts (DPG), and NAC-commissioned works and partnerships. Originally slated to support training programmes and digital projects to be completed by the end of 2020, the application periods for both the CDSA and DPG were extended to 14 September 2020, to support training programmes and digital projects until 31 March 2021, in response to the interests in the schemes by our artists and arts groups.


  • Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA): Launched in mid-March, the CDSA is aimed at supporting skills upgrading across various disciplines including art making, digitalisation, entrepreneurship and audience development. To date, about 1,100 training opportunities have been supported, benefiting over 300 arts organisations and arts Self-Employed Persons (SEPs).  


  • Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts (DPG): To augment digitalisation efforts and to support efforts by artists and arts organisations to present their work in digital form or via digital mediums during this COVID-19 period, the DPG was launched in mid-April. To-date, it has supported more than 680 projects by the arts community and SEPs, creating over 9,000 job/gig opportunities.


  • NAC-Commissioned Works and Partnerships: NAC has also actively commissioned projects through our own festival platforms, as well as through partnerships with organisations such as Singapore Press Holdings and Hear65. Through the Digitalisation Fund for Commission and Partnerships, NAC has created over 1,700 job opportunities for the sector.


To sustain continued support for digitalisation efforts and capability development needs as the CDSA and DPG schemes are phased out, NAC has made some adjustments to the regular Presentation & Participation Grant, Market and Audience Development Grant, and Capability Development Grant. The enhanced grant schemes are open for applications from 15 September till 15 December 2020 for projects commencing 15 April 2021. Please refer to the respective grant pages on NAC’s website for more details.


Since March 2020, the various measures have been communicated to the arts community through regular updates published on NAC’s website as well as over 40 engagement sessions that were held with nearly 600 artists and arts companies.  


More recently in June 2020, more than 200 artists and arts organisations were invited for a further discussion on how we can anticipate and prepare to gradually move into Phase 2 as we all learn 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.


The key issues raised to NAC over the past weeks, including the latest updates, are captured below:


Navigating the New Normal and Re-Opening of the Arts Sector
Life in the new normal with gradual resumption of arts and culture activities


As we move from Safe Re-Opening (Phase 1) into Safe Transition (Phase 2), safe management measures and necessary safeguards would need to be in place to minimise the resurgence of the pandemic in Singapore. This draws reference from international best practices as well as active research efforts in better understanding audience behaviours in this new normal. 


Safe Management Measures for the resumption of work for the arts sector


Please visit NAC’s website for the latest advisory on Phase Two of re-opening for arts and culture stakeholders. 


For the arts sector to re-open and for work to resume, it is critical that safety management measures (SMMs) are in place.  This will uphold confidence for the arts sector to safely engage audiences, and prevent costly errors that not only will result in a setback for the arts community but have serious implications for the public.   

As part of the progressive re-opening of the arts and culture sector, MCCY and NAC will pilot small-scale live performances at selected arts venues from 11 September 2020, with SMMs in place. The pilot will help NAC, the arts community and the public gain confidence and experience in implementing the necessary SMMs, and demonstrate ways to resume live performances safely. After the pilots, MCCY and NAC will monitor and review the outcomes together with the participating cultural institutions and arts practitioners and we hope to put up recommendations for the gradual resumption of arts performances.

International Activities and International Opportunities

Given the continued uncertainties in international travel, artists are advised to be more conservative in planning for international activities in the interim.  The risk of incurring abortive costs with postponements and cancellations will be higher. With the challenges of COVID-19, the arts sector should be prepared to navigate through low to high-risk activities and lean towards developing a range of programmes that would be suited for different situations.  


Digital offerings will enhance opportunities to reach new audiences overseas. Our local artists and arts organisations can raise awareness and appreciation for their works if they successfully tailor differentiated content with the audiences of different international markets in mind.  NAC will actively work with STB and our missions overseas as well as our international partners to tap on opportunities to profile Singapore content. 


NAC will also work with international partners on areas such as international residencies that are able to take place in the virtual form in the absence of a physical interaction, as well as capability development through channels such as masterclasses.


Research efforts to better understand audience behaviours in the new normal 


NAC will be embarking on surveys to help us better understand audience behaviour during the current situation, to prepare us for the days ahead.  It is also important for us to know how you are faring during this period. NAC will share feedback and data with the arts community in a timely manner, for instance through the monthly Arts and Culture Newsletter released by NAC’s Research Division which is disseminated on NAC’s website. 


Online content beyond the “General” rating

NAC has been engaging IMDA and will be required to uphold   their guidance on digital content. Unlike physical presentation of performances, digital content is generally available with no age segregation. NAC will therefore fund works suitable for all audience segments including young children and families to access and enjoy.  


Arts organisations and artists can put out content with classified ratings which are not funded by NAC on their own platforms but would also be required to abide by IMDA’s guidelines.



Support Measures and the Sustainability of the Arts Sector  
Saving jobs and preserving arts organisations


Since the announcement of the Unity Budget in February 2020, and most recently, the Ministerial Statement on Continued Support for Workers and Jobs delivered on 17 August 2020, a range of support measures has been rolled out to support the Singapore economy, some of which will benefit the arts sector. Beyond tapping on these measures to tide through the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation, arts organisations are also encouraged to evolve and think about sustainability for the longer term. 


Jobs Support Scheme 

For more information on the JSS administered by IRAS, please visit the IRAS website.

The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) is designed to help companies, including arts organisations, to retain their local workforce during this period of economic uncertainty. The JSS provides broad-based wage support to all active employers (i.e. employers who have been making CPF contributions). 


As announced on 17 August 2020 in the Ministerial Statement on Continued Support for Workers and Jobs:


  • JSS will be extended by up to 7 months (at lower support levels) to cover wages paid up to March 2021, bringing the total wage support under the scheme to 17 months for most sectors, including the arts and culture sector. 


  • In line with the gradual re-opening of the economy, arts and culture organisations (under Tier 2) will see the base tier of JSS support for September 2020 to March 2021 wages adjusted from 50% to 30%.


Any request for appeals should be submitted through the IRAS website.


Mitigating Manpower Attrition in the Arts Sector

Sustaining livelihoods and saving jobs will continue to be NAC’s priority as we navigate through these unchartered waters together. As with other sectors that have been negatively affected by the pandemic, the arts sector is likely to see some job losses. Some arts organisations and artists may be expected to move towards lateral and ancillary industries, and at the same time, use this opportunity to skill up and maintain ties with the arts sector.


NAC has sustained funding support for arts organisations under the Major Company Scheme. In turn, our Major Companies can together with the public cultural institutions make a significant difference in whether we retain talent within our sector through generating paid work for arts freelancers.  


NAC will actively seek job opportunities, whether freelance or full-time, to post on the job portal of the Arts Resource Hub which supports the need of arts freelancers. NAC has and will continue to commission projects which generate more opportunities for arts companies and artists.


Increasing Flexibility in Existing Contracts and Support Measures for arts companies

Funding performance indicators and outcomes for Major Companies will be reviewed, and adjusted as we understand the challenges faced during this time. Arts companies are urged to focus on staff retention where possible, and embark on digital transformation for long-term sustainability.


NAC has made it possible for all Major Company and Seed Grant scheme (MCSG) recipients to tap on additional funding under the ACRP, whereas previously they could not go beyond MCSG funding. NAC has also been deliberate in creating many job/gig opportunities for companies not funded through the MCSG scheme and arts freelancers. This income helps them to do work independent of NAC funding if they so wish to.


Existing NAC grant schemes continue to be available to artists and arts organisations. For instance, our Creation, Production and Research Grant schemes for creation and research are available for those who wish to create new works or take this time to focus on writing and research.


Rental waivers and rental relief framework for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs)

Eligible tenants, including arts organisations that are Registered Charities on MCCY-owned properties, will receive a total of up to four months of rental waivers under the ACRP. Eligible tenants will be informed directly by their respective landlords of their eligibility.

The amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, as well as related subsidiary legislation, which provide a rental relief framework for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and selected Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), came into force on 31 July 2020. Selected NPOs include eligible registered or exempt charities, as well as arts and culture societies which meet the criteria for the Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme for Arts and Culture organisations. 

Eligible registered or exempt charities, and eligible arts and culture societies,1 which are tenant-occupiers will benefit from rental waivers as summarised in the table below:


Duration of Rental Relief

Type of Relief

Qualifying Commercial Properties (e.g. Shops)

Other Non-residential Properties (e.g. Industrial/ Office Properties)

 A. Rental Relief (supported by Government assistance)

Rental Waiver

2 months

(for April to May 2020)

1 month

(for April 2020)

 B. Additional Rental Relief (supported by landlords/ property owners)

Rental Waiver

2 months

(for June to July 2020)

1 month

(for May 2020)


4 months

(for April to July 2020)

2 months

(for April to May 2020)

*Registered or exempt charities, and arts and culture societies, with not more than S$100 million in annual revenue for the Financial Year 2018 or a later appropriate period where applicable (for those not in operation for 12 months or longer as of 31 December 2018), at the entity level.


Starting from end-July 2020, IRAS will issue a notice of cash grant and disburse the cash grant to owners of property with eligible tenant-occupiers. The notice will inform property owners of the rental waivers they should provide to their tenants. Nonetheless, those eligible but who have not received the notice of cash grant may make a manual application to IRAS from 21 August 2020 to 21 October 2020.


Please refer to the following links for more information:
-    Press Release by the Ministry of Law on Commencement of Rental Relief Framework for SMEs  
-    More information on the Rental Relief Framework which can be found here

Venue hire subsidy for performances, exhibitions, rehearsals and workshops 


MCCY has extended subsidy for venue hire and in-house production costs (where applicable) from 30% to 80% during Phase 2, subject to review and the prevailing national situation. 


This subsidy is for arts and culture activities permitted to resume in Phase 2 at venues in the Esplanade, National Gallery Singapore, National Heritage Board museums and heritage institutions, STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, Singapore Conference Hall, as well as those managed by Arts House Limited.  It will also be extended to select arts centres with shared facilities under NAC. Please approach the participating organisations for further details. 

Fundraising efforts to contribute to the sustainability of the arts sector 

As fundraising is an important avenue in ensuring the sustainability of arts organisations, companies can consider clustering their fundraising efforts to make a more compelling case for donations. 


NAC launched an online broad-based fundraising campaign on 20 April 2020, titled A Covid-19 Rally for Singapore’s Arts. As part of this campaign, NAC encouraged our arts community to position their fundraising needs on that would resonate with the public during this challenging situation. More than $240,000 has been raised by over 35 arts organisations. Our arts organisations are encouraged to communicate the impact their organisations can bring, especially in these trying times.

Tote Board Arts Grant

For cancellation charges of AEP programmes due to COVID-19, AEP providers can tap on the Tote Board Arts Grant to help subsidise the charges, and the computation of payment is dependent on the respective schools. 


On the Artist-in-School Scheme (AISS), NAC funds up to 70% of AISS projects capped at $15,000 and the Tote Board Arts Grant can be used to offset the remaining projefct costs at up to 50% if funds have not been committed to other programmes. 


Support Measures for Specific Groups in the Arts Sector

NAC acknowledges that the needs of some groups in the arts sector may require different needs. The Council is prepared to work with the relevant organisations and encourage you to reach out directly to us.



Continued Learning and Digitising to be Future-Ready
Support for upskilling and training of staff, and building digitalisation capabilities


Arts organisations and artists are encouraged to continue upskilling and be open to learning new skills. COVID-19 has escalated the push towards digitalisation, in Singapore and internationally. The Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA) and Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts (DPG) were launched in March and April 2020 respectively, to support the needs of arts organisations and artists. Response to both schemes has been very positive, and both schemes have since closed on 14 September 2020, after two rounds of extensions. 


“Blended” delivery of physical and digital components

As we prepare to move into the gradual re-opening of the arts sector, NAC will work with arts organisations and relevant Government agencies in exploring innovative ideas in staging performances during this period, and to see how we can tap on technology to facilitate paid online content.  


As there is certainty of a digital future, arts organisations are strongly encouraged to collaborate on solutions in order to be ready for the digital transformation. Arts organisations should work towards strengthening their online capabilities, including considerations for their backend business functions.

Digitalisation Support for Arts Education Programme (AEP) Providers 

Support through the CDSA was extended to AEP providers for training in the area of digitalisation. AEP providers could also look at courses offered by the Polytechnics, some of which are funded by SkillsFuture Singapore. An E-learning Primer that articulates the basic principles of e-learning pedagogy is also available on the NAC-AEP website to provide baseline guidance. In addition, NAC is also working with NIE to customise a course on e-pedagogy for AEP providers. Information on the course will be available within the next few weeks.


Schools can continue to use the Tote Board Arts Grant to purchase digitalised AEP. AEP providers who are embarking on creating digital programmes may apply for the Digital Presentation Grant to support their efforts.


AEP providers are encouraged to be prepared to roll out fully digital or blended delivery of Arts Education programmes when the schools are ready.


As we ease restrictions in Phase 2, our collective efforts will be critical in enabling the arts sector to open safely. The wellbeing of our artists and audiences remains the priority even as we seek to resume operations. The restrictions will continue to pose challenges for our arts organisations and artists in generating revenues at levels prior to the COVID-19 situation. The economic outlook will also pose challenges for the arts sector to sustain strong support from donors and patrons.  


NAC is committed to working with the arts community to overcoming these challenges through impactful relief measures and innovative strategies. The ACRP will be drawn on to create opportunities for sustaining livelihoods, support digital transformation and enhance capabilities.


Together, we can stay resilient in the face of changes as we prepare for a post-COVID-19 world.  These changes will be lasting and significant not only for the nature of arts creation and presentation, but also in how audiences will want to access the arts, and how we can continue to deliver strong social outcomes for patrons of the arts. 


Additional Resources



Updated as of 22 February 2020