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Harnessing the upsides in the digitalisation of the arts and international platforms

Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister For Culture, Community And Youth, & Second Minister For Law, At Asia Cultural Cooperation Forum on 14 Dec 2022

1. I would like to thank Hong Kong for inviting Singapore and the rest of the delegation here to participate in this year’s Asia Cultural Cooperation Forum (ACCF). It is a great pleasure to be here in-person, after some time away to be able to exchange our ideas on cultural cooperation and more importantly to be here in person to make friends and to build bonds and camaraderie. 

2. The fact that this session is so well-attended and with almost 20 countries represented here is indicative of how the arts and culture is to each of us. I thank Hong Kong for the warm hospitality and the great organization of this year’s ACCF. 


3. Asia is rapidly digitalising and the COVID-19 pandemic has simply accelerated a trend, which already started prior COVID-19. Technology has no doubt transformed our lives and has enhanced how the arts is created and has also changed the way in which discourse and interaction between artists and audience takes place.

4. As the sector adapts to the rise of technology, exciting new opportunities have emerged for arts and culture groups and practitioners to experiment with new digital platforms. I would like to speak more on the greater adoption of technology for the creation, appreciation, and valuation of art. 

  1. Many of us would be familiar with digital platforms like Spotify, Instagram and Douyin.

  2. These platforms not just showcase their works but also reach out to the wider audience without the constrains of geographical boundaries. 

  3. We are also likely to see more collaborative, inclusive co-creation among artists, practitioners, partners and the community, and new forms of presentation that can transcend dedicated arts spaces. In fact, it can take the art out of the traditional museum, into the space where the consumer resides.

  4. Digital platforms, such as the Singapore-based BandLab, are now widely used by musicians around the world for collaborations.

  5. Indeed the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitalisation and changed audience consumption. These patterns have changed very significantly. It is something we can take advantage of to benefit both artists as well as consumers.

  1. In Singapore, about eight in 10 digital arts consumers noted that they would continue online consumption even after the pandemic.

  2. With these new trends, Intellectual Property (IP) will become an increasingly important aspect of arts, culture and the creative industries.

Importance of IP

6. Creative professionals worldwide have recognised the importance of IP to the development as well as the protection of their work and their business models. 

  1. It has direct impact on monetisation, presentation and dissemination of creative works, especially in an increasingly digital world. 

  2. When a piece of art is created, particularly on a commission basis, who owns the copyright? The company or the artist? 

  3. This question is particularly pertinent for freelancers who may not always have access to legal representation should it be required.

    i. Content creation companies like Netflix are constantly on the lookout for stories to turn into new shows and other pieces of entertainment. In such cases, creative professionals must know how to negotiate over IP rights and protect their own interests. 

    1. One example is Dim Sum Warriors, by Singaporeans Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen.

    2. This started as a graphic novel series before being adapted into a stage musical, bilingual educational storybooks, as well as an educational app.

    3. In such cases, it would be important for the artists to be able to manage the IP rights of their work.

  4. IP issues have a direct impact on how art is created, transacted, disseminated, and ultimately appreciated by the audience. This is also a key reason why, in Singapore,  we are working to strengthen the Intellectual Property ecosystem.

7. Just last year, Singapore set out a roadmap to enhance and strengthen our IP infrastructure. We call it the Singapore IP Strategy (SIPS) 2030.  Let me share some examples of how SIPS 2030 can be relevant to the creative sector.

  a. First, SIPS 2030 seeks to maintain a strong Intangible Assets (IA) and Intellectual Property (IP) regime that is conducive for creativity and innovation;

Second, we will raise IP awareness and capabilities with industry and community partners; and

Third, we are working with the community to accelerate our efforts to build IP skills across sectors, including arts and culture.

8. In line with this, we will help creators and innovators to better extract value from their Intangible Assets, from an idea, to something that they put into practice. Knowing the true value of Intangible Assets, such as copyrighted contents and brands, can help creators and businesses in the arts, cultural and creative sectors to strengthen their commercial opportunities and business strategies. 

  1. Singapore will therefore work with international partners to develop internationally-recognised Intangible Assets and Intellectual Property valuation guidelines.

  2. These guidelines will lay the foundation for credible and trusted valuation methodology that will enable companies to effectively value and monetise their Intangible Assets and Intellectual Property in both Singapore and overseas.

  3. In turn, this will help artists. Knowing the true value of the Intangible Assets that they hold, such as copyrighted content and brands, would give them insights that would help them strengthen their commercial opportunities and business strategies. 

  1. One good example of this is Bandwagon Pte Ltd, an independent music media company in Singapore. It previously organised many live events, however, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was unable to do so and had to pivot to digital events and livestreams.

  2. To do so, they worked with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore to build capabilities to deal with issues regarding the IP rights involved in these livestreams and event recordings, as well as safeguard their Intangible Assets.

9. We have to be adaptive, nimble, innovative and opportunistic to harness the upsides in the digitalisation of the arts and international platforms. This will help artists to create better content, protect them, realise their commercial value, and help the audience better appreciate art in varied forms. 


10. To conclude, Singapore is happy to collaborate with international partners, especially in the culture and creative sectors, on issues related to IP, as well as steps taken to deepen and share cultural exchanges.

11. Together, we can better support the good work of our artists and cultural practitioners, whilst at the same time using the arts and culture to foster stronger people-to-people ties in the region and beyond.

12. Thank you.


Last updated on 19 December 2022