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Arts & Heritage

Nurturing a more creative and caring generation through the arts

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at the Opening of the Gallery Children’s Biennale

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen
Boys and girls

  1. Good afternoon. And thank you for having me at the second edition of the Children’s Biennale.
  2. The Children’s Biennale is one of National Gallery’s high key programmes, designed to engage young visitors in art. This year, 13 Singapore and Southeast Asian artists have produced 11 inspiring works centred on the theme of Embracing Wonder.
  3. These works seek to activate our senses, evoke emotions, and foster an understanding of nature. Others stimulate the imagination, and challenge us to see the ordinary differently. I look forward to viewing the works of Song-Ming Ang – who is currently flying our flag high representing Singapore at this year’s Venice Biennale, and other old friends such as Eko Nugroho, Milenko Prvacki and his wife, Delia.

    National Gallery as a leader in the visual arts

  4. The Children’s Biennale at the Gallery is a notable component of the National Arts Council (NAC)’s Our SG Arts Plan – a five-year blueprint for the arts sector launched in Oct 2018. In this plan, Singapore is envisioned as a destination for local and Southeast Asian art, where Singaporeans and visitors have meaningful opportunities to experience the richness of visual arts from our region. The Gallery, as the leader in Singapore’s visual arts ecosystem, has a critical role in realising this aspiration. Its role includes: 
    • working closely with Singapore and Southeast Asian artists, thus building up the knowledge in Singapore and Southeast Asian art; 
    • enhancing and showcasing its collections for better appreciation and being the “go-to gallery” for Singapore and Southeast Asian art; 
    • fostering a strong understanding of our art heritage and a common national identity through the artworks it displays; and
    • giving access, both physically and metaphorically, to all segments of society so that art can be and will be the agent of change towards an inclusive society.
  5. One of the priority areas in the Arts Plan is audience development in all demographic segments, not least our young. I am glad that the Gallery is taking the lead for children in visual art, creating an experience that appeals to both children and their parents. It is important that we make art accessible to all Singaporeans, regardless of age or background. Through art, we can start conversations and foster understanding between people of diverse backgrounds. Art can also help create opportunities for social discourse, and deepen our understanding about who we are as a people and as a nation.

    Value of the arts to the young

  6. At MCCY, we recognise that the arts in many forms can help our young develop their aesthetic abilities and unlock their creativity. The exploratory nature of art also enables them to explore new possibilities, and in the process bolster their confidence.  Our interactions with pieces of art can evoke different emotions, including empathy. Such experiences equip children with the ability to grasp how emotion is elicited, expressed and perceived. NAC is working with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and key partners, like preschool operators and the Early Childhood Development Agency, to extend the reach of the arts to as many teachers, parents and children as we can.
  7. Last year, MOE launched a revised Primary School Art Syllabus to nurture students’ critical thinking skills, and to build their interest in art, culture and history. It will introduce our students to a range of artworks by eminent Singapore artists like Georgette Chen, Chua Mia Tee, and Liu Kang. The works of international masters, contemporary artists, as well as student artists from our schools are also included. Learning from art can enhance our students’ awareness of historical and current events as they engage deeply with each work.
  8. The Syllabus also includes a visit to the Gallery as a recommended Museum-based learning experience for Primary 4 students. Students will be led on guided trails that depict different themes – such as the people, places and history of Singapore – and have guided discussions on these themes. In the long run, such experiences will encourage Singaporeans to better understand our culture and our art heritage, and strengthen our sense of national identity and belonging.


  9. Many parents and educators today understand that exposing their children to art at a young age contributes to their holistic development. So I am very glad to see that we have here 5 to 6 year-olds from the PCF Northwest District, and primary school students from Zhenghua Primary School are here with us today. The Gallery is a great place for visitors to spend time with their family and friends, and enjoy the shared experience of being immersed in art. I would like to encourage all families to visit the Biennale, and the Keppel Centre for Art Education. Both serve to connect children with art, which can be the foundation of a creative and caring generation for our future.
  10. I would like to end my speech with a quote from Thomas Merton: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” I hope that you will find yourselves and lose yourselves here at the same time, at the Gallery Children’s Biennale. Children, please look after your parents and make sure that they are not lost. Enjoy your day as you explore the endless possibilities of art. Thank you.
Speeches Arts & Heritage 2019
Last updated on 29 May 2019