Update on key issues raised to NAC on support for the arts community through the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP)

 

The Government has announced a variety of support schemes over the past two months aimed at small and medium enterprises under the various Budget packages and of which, many are applicable to the arts sector. The $55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) has also been announced. The ACRP seeks to protect the arts ecosystem and provide support and opportunities for our arts organisations and artists. At the same time, it also aims to develop longer-term capabilities for the post-Covid-19 recovery. 

 

To date, through the ACRP, NAC has:
 


Timely updates that are relevant to our arts sector will be published on NAC’s website. We encourage our arts companies to refer to the website for timely updates. Following these announcements, NAC also held over 40 engagement sessions with over 400 artists and arts companies, including ‘Ask NAC’ sessions over a course of 6 weeks. We are all navigating in unchartered territories and adapting best as we can, in hope that we will come out of this even stronger together as nation. 

 

The measures that address the key issues raised to NAC are captured below.

 

Protecting Livelihoods and Maintaining Organisation Capacity
Measures aimed at saving jobs and preserving arts organisations

 

The measures announced to support businesses announced by DPM Heng Swee Keat will apply to arts and culture companies. It is aimed at supporting workers, stabilising businesses and building economic and social resilience in these unprecedented challenging times. MCCY and NAC are monitoring the situation very closely and we will adjust our supplementary support measures for the arts sector as necessary to respond to the situation in the months ahead.
 

Jobs Support Scheme

The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) is designed to help companies, including our arts companies, retain their local workforce. JSS will provide 25% wage support to companies for a period of 9 months, with an additional ramp up to 75% wage support for the months of April and May 2020. This is to help companies directly reduce the wage costs and retain their workforce.

Rental Waivers

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

Major Company scheme and NAC’s existing grant schemes

For our Major Companies, we have maintained a steady state funding for the overall sector through the Major Companies funding. Grant procedures have also been adjusted to ensure that funding is disbursed sooner. Funding performance indicators and outcomes will also be reviewed together with our Major Companies in the next few months, as we understand the challenges they face during this time. 

Existing NAC grant schemes continue to be available to the arts groups. 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.

Cultural Matching Fund

The Cultural Matching Fund (CMF) was established to encourage private cash donations to registered charities in the arts and heritage sector. The CMF matches the value of every cash donation received, and this can be put to various uses, especially in areas of developing capabilities for the long-term sustainability of the organisation. This is important for the overall arts ecosystem in the longer term and it must be maintained.

The CMF Secretariat will be bringing forward the evaluation and approval processes to expedite the disbursing of funds during this period.
 

 

Sustaining Audience Reach and Enhancing Arts Experience through Digitalisation 
Supporting arts organisations to build digitalisation capabilities

 

NAC understands the concern about digital versus live arts experiences. NAC agrees that live arts experiences for audiences cannot be replaced by digital experiences. While we also look forward to going back into the theatres to experience the arts fully, the reality is that for now, this is not possible. At the same time, we believe that it is not mutually exclusive for the arts to be offered both in physical and digital forms when this allows for greater access and new audiences over the longer term. 

 

Digitalisation is identified as one of the priorities under Our SG Arts Plan (2018-2022), and we aim to support the arts community to be digitally confident and creative, so that they may use technology to create, distribute, and market the arts effectively. Covid-19 has escalated the push towards digitalisation, and is necessary to continue to bring the arts to the people this period and to sustain a vibrant and diverse arts scene through a strong post COVID-19 recovery. This will hopefully cultivate a larger group of arts-embracing audience who will continue to support the arts. In a world post-Covid-19, NAC expects that digital components will complement the physical ones, with our grants also likely to be refined to respond to the new situation. We encourage the arts community to explore in the areas such as digital creation, presentation and audience engagement, so that they will be better positioned for the days ahead.
 

Unified Digital Platform

NAC has launched the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign to bring visibility to Singapore’s arts and culture, so that Singaporeans as well as international audiences can continue to have access to the best of Singapore’s arts and culture during this period. 

 

NAC, together with other cultural institutions like Esplanade, National Gallery and our museums, have released digital content on the #SGCultureAnywhere site, as a one-stop centre that aggregates the best of Singapore’s arts and culture content. The arts community is invited to contribute to this campaign. 

 

To access the best of #SGCultureAnywhere, please visit A List Singapore

Digital Presentation Grant

With the introduction of the Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts, arts companies are strongly encouraged to take this opportunity to think of innovative ways to present new or existing work in digital form or via digital medium by tapping on the grant. 

 

Since the launch of the grant in mid-April, NAC is encouraged by the influx of applications that show the willingness of the arts community to embark on the digitalisation journey.

 

We understand the need for more time to put together the application and to work on the projects if awarded, especially under the circuit breaker period. We have extended the application window from 30 June to 31 July 2020 and the project completion date from 30 September to 30 December 2020. 

 

Upskilling and Training to be Future Ready 
Support for upskilling and training of staff for post COVID-19 recovery

 

Arts organisations are encouraged to plan and prepare for the post-Covid-19 recovery phase through upskilling and training. NAC hopes that through the provision of additional funding for training, it will encourage and support the continuous professional development of the people that work in Singapore’s arts and culture sector.

 

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. 

 

A wide range of programmes are 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. 

NAC Commissioned Online Courses

NAC is working with some of our more established arts companies in offering training programmes to interested artists. We value the contributions and experiences that our companies can bring to the table, and agree that it would be useful to pass on these knowledge and sharings. As arts organisations and artists have also requested for the same, NAC hopes that these courses will be fully tapped on when they are launched. 

Residencies and exchanges

NAC encourages the arts community to continue exchanges with their international counterparts. For instance, with international residency exchanges, it can continue by tapping on the many strengths of technology in the interim absence of a physical interaction. This will also set the stage for a richer conversation when face-to-face meetings can happen.

 

As the pandemic has hit every sector severely and many sectors like the arts sector are in need of help, the Government has to take a fair view when considering support measures for each sector. While there cannot be an indefinite amount of state funding to support all in the arts sector, NAC will do our utmost to sustain the capacity of the arts sector as best as we can. The ACRP is a valuable reserve for the arts and culture sector that will last till the end of 2020, and will be flexible in design to respond to the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. 

 

Together, we can stay resilient in the face of changes as we prepare for a post-Covid-19 world.  These changes will be 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.

 

Updated as of 22 May 2020