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Singapore : arts and culture strategic review recommends ground-up cultural development

Following an extensive public consultation, the Arts and Culture Strategic Review (ACSR) Steering Committee has refined its recommendations and submitted its final report to the Government on 31 January 2012. The ACSR’s vision for 2025 is for Singapore to be a nation of cultured and gracious people, at home with our heritage, and proud of our Singaporean identity. To achieve this vision, the ACSR recommends that our next phase of cultural development be driven from the ground up, supported by a comprehensive suite of proposals aimed at creating a conducive environment for all stakeholders to enjoy arts and culture in Singapore.

Extensive Consultation Shows Strong Support for Arts and Culture 

  • The final report follows the ACSR’s seven-month long public consultation phase, comprising numerous consultation platforms to reach a broad range of stakeholders and members of the public. The public consultation platforms included an online consultation portal, telephone surveys, focus group discussions, interviews, and public forums.
  • During the consultation, the Steering Committee was very heartened by the strong affirmation from the respondents on the value of arts and culture, even from those who were not currently involved in arts and culture. For example, close to 90% of respondents to the telephone survey agreed that arts and culture activities can develop shared experiences and bring people closer to one another, and more than 80% agreed that they can enhance our quality of life.  The public also welcomed the ACSR’s proposals, and its efforts to bring arts and culture practitioners, the community and the Government together for a constructive conversation on the future of our arts and culture landscape. The Steering Committee views that this reveals a maturing society that appreciates the intangible value of arts and culture, that is ready to contribute their talent and enthusiasm towards improving our arts and culture landscape.

Changing Roles of the Community, Artists and Government

  • To achieve the ACSR’s vision, the Committee believes that it is necessary for the mindsets and roles of our community, our arts and culture practitioners, and the Government to evolve:
  • The community could adopt an open mindset to explore new interests, and consider being more active consumers, audiences and participants of arts and culture, by tapping on the wide range of activities already available, as well as resources provided by the Government. The community could also take greater ownership of our cultural development, organise activities, and co-create an environment and identity that authentically reflects who we are as a people and what we value.
  • Our practitioners, as creators of arts and culture, could consider providing a wider range of quality arts and culture offerings to reach out to more audiences, and help raise their appreciation of our local talent. They could also continue to strive towards raising their standards, and be recognised and well-loved both locally and overseas.
  • The Government could move towards being an enabler, playing a facilitative rather than a top-down role, by providing funding, facilities and frameworks to create a nurturing environment where artistic creation and participation can thrive. This could be open to all art forms and all segments of the community, to debunk the misperception that arts and culture is ‘elitist’.

Promoting Engagement and Excellence

  • To catalyse this transformation, the ACSR has recommended a comprehensive suite of initiatives, along two main thrusts
  • Promoting active participation in arts and culture: The ACSR recommends greater support for potential arts and culture participants, hobbyists and enthusiasts, to make arts and culture more accessible and easily interwoven into daily life. This includes enhancing our people’s ability to appreciate arts and culture; affordable and convenient venues for practice and showcase purposes; platforms to network enthusiasts with one another; and greater support for community interest groups (e.g. through start-up grants, starter toolkits, workshops and partnerships with instructors).
  • Enhancing capabilities of our practitioners – both enthusiasts and professional – to develop quality offerings: The ACSR recommends enhancing collaboration opportunities, showcase platforms, education and training, and infrastructural facilities for our practitioners. In addition, the ACSR recommends enhancing the Government’s funding frameworks to streamline administrative requirements and better meet specific needs of arts companies and institutions.

Proposed initiatives includes, amongst others, the following: 

  • “Arts and Culture 101” series: Programmes such as talks, hands-on activities, and the creation of art works under the guidance of practitioners are recommended to introduce the general public to arts and culture. This should include all forms of arts and culture – from more conventional forms such as poetry and painting, to more inclusive forms such as manga and community singing.
  • A one-stop portal, ArtsCultureSG: This portal could include an up-to-date database of programmes and activities, as well as facts, figures and write-ups on our cultural scene and professionals. It could serve as a connecting point for hobbyists and practitioners with similar interests to facilitate the organisation of activities, exchange of ideas and collaborations. Similar services could also be provided over-the-counter at the proposed “cultural concierges” in libraries.
  • Improved cultural facilities in heartlands: To establish more professional yet affordable practice and presentation spaces, existing cultural facilities in the heartlands such as auditoriums, music studios and dance studios could be enhanced to more professional standards, to support the arts and culture needs of the local community as well as practitioners.
  • Optimise funding to meet art companies’ different organisational and developmental needs: The Government’s funding frameworks should be reviewed to differentiate between established and emerging companies, as companies have different developmental needs at different stages of their growth. For example, established companies require funding to drive education, outreach and industry development, and raise their international standing, while emerging companies need funding for growth.
  • New continuing education and training (CET) opportunities for practitioners: Additional CET programmes should be provided and/or subsidised through collaborations with industry partners and arts institutions, as well as through establishing new CET providers. These sector-led and sector-focused programmes will raise standards among our practitioners, while helping to enhance their employability.

The full range of proposed initiatives will benefit all stakeholder groups, including students, working adults, families, hobbyists, enthusiasts, arts and culture companies and professionals. A sampling of the ACSR’s more than 100 initiatives, and their impact on the various stakeholders, is in Annex A. The full ACSR report can be found at www.acsr.sg.
The submission of the ACSR’s final report concludes the work which the ACSR Steering Committee began in September 2010. (See Annex B for the background of the ACSR and the composition of the Steering Committee.)

Source : MICA

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