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: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/funding.html 

 

Update on key issues raised to NAC on support for the arts community 
    
The Fortitude Budget was announced in May 2020, building on the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets to help businesses and individuals adapt and build resilience during this period. This is in addition to the $55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) 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, about 3,200 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 traiing programmes and digital projects to be completed by the end of 2020, the application periods for both the CDSA and DPG have been 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, nearly 600 training opportunities have been supported, benefiting over 200 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 320 projects by the arts community and SEPs, creating over 4,500 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 targets to create over 1,000 more job opportunities, largely for the SEPs.

 

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 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 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 we recognise that arts practices are diverse and there are varying requirements, NAC urges the arts community to work together in drawing up robust plans for safe management measures that can be submitted to the authorities through NAC. Communities of Practice will contribute to how, for each art form and activity, overall safety guidelines are tailored in a feasible and practical manner. 

 

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 announcement of the Fortitude Budget, a range of support measures have 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). 

 

Under the Fortitude Budget, the following enhancements were announced:

  • 75% wage support that were applied to the months of April and May will be extended to employers who are not allowed to resume operations, during the period they are not allowed to resume operations or until August 2020, whichever is earlier. 
     
  • JSS support has also been extended by 1 month (i.e. 10 months total) to cover wages paid up to August 2020.
     
  • Arts and culture organisations are now eligible for 50% support (under Tier 2) when business resumes. This change will also be applied retrospectively to previous payouts and employers will receive a top-up on these previous payouts by July 2020. However, to qualify for Tier 2 wage support, companies must meet the criteria published on the IRAS website. 
     

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.

 

[NEW] 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*, 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)

Total

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 

 

NAC is currently working with MCCY to review the rates applied to the spaces under our various cultural institutions such as the Goodman Arts Centre, Stamford Arts Centre, Arts House venues, Esplanade, and the presenting spaces at the museums and galleries.  

 

Timely updates will be provided through NAC’s website when it becomes available.
 

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 Giving.sg that would resonate with the public during this challenging situation. More than $150,000 has been raised by over 30 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 70% of AISS projects and the Tote Board Arts Grant can be used to offset the remaining 30% 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 also 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) are available to arts organisations and artists. To enable more arts organisations to tap on the funding, the application period for both schemes have been extended to 14 September 2020, for programmes to be completed by 31 March 2021. This final extension is in response to the interests in the schemes by our artists and arts groups. 

 

The NAC also urges artists and arts companies to proactively consider smart design measures e.g. blended presentations involving digital and physical components.

 

To sustain support for digitalisation efforts and capability development needs as the CDSA and DPG schemes phase out,  NAC will be making some adjustments to the regular Presentation & Participation Grant, Market and Audience Development Grant, and Capability Development Grant. The enhanced grant schemes will open for applications from 15 September 2020, instead of 15 August 2020, for projects commencing 15 April 2021. Please refer to the respective grant pages for more details in early September 2020.

 

“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.
 

Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA)

Companies who apply for the CDSA may receive funding to support their staff for training and receive absentee payroll at the same time.  To help alleviate the financial burden of artists and arts organisations, 50% of the CDSA grant would be given upfront for SEPs upon acceptance of offer. 

 

A wide range of programmes is eligible for CDSA including workshops, masterclasses, seminars, conferences, professional programmes and residencies. Online training programmes are also eligible for support as long as the training areas are relevant to your staff’s role in the arts and culture sector. 
 

Digitalisation Support for Arts Education Programme (AEP) Providers 

AEP providers may consider applying for the CDSA to support their training in the area of digitalisation, or 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, it will be critical that our collective efforts enable 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 Arts and Culture Resilience Package 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 17 September 2020