59 Years of Preserving and Promoting Teochew Opera
Speech by Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development, at Nam Hwa Opera’s 59th Anniversary Appreciation Gala Dinner on 2 Nov 2022
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My heartiest congratulations to Nam Hwa Opera for your 59th Anniversary celebration. I am honoured to be here with you this evening for this special occasion.
The preservation and promotion of the traditional arts continue to be important for our society. To do so, however, is challenging, and the past two years have been especially so – traditional arts groups have had to respond to the changes and adapt quickly to a new normal. Nam Hwa Opera continues to persevere, constantly seeking out innovation for traditional Teochew opera, demonstrating their strong commitment to keep the art alive.
Alongside their efforts to preserve Teochew culture, opera and music, Nam Hwa also accelerated the digitalisation of their archives during the pandemic. They have made opera more accessible to the community by sharing their repertoire, music, training, research projects, and cross-genre programmes across various social media platforms, and leveraged the wider reach that the digital sphere offers.
It is also particularly important to grow talents for the arts sector. In order to cultivate a younger generation of local talents, Nam Hwa launched "Keep The Flame", a production by local youths guided by professional teachers. While live audience sizes were limited due to safe management measures, “Keep The Flame” amassed over 4000 views on social media platforms, which allowed new artists to showcase the fruits of their labour to preserve, promote, and keep the flame alive for traditional arts.
Nam Hwa’s bold experimentation and innovation over the years have successfully transformed the traditional way of presenting Teochew opera, allowing people to renew their impressions of what Teochew opera can be. Singapore Chinese culture and heritage form a key part of our identity, and your efforts help to strengthen and keep the traditions relevant in this fast-changing society. In 2020, Nam Hwa was one of the inaugural recipients of the “Stewards of Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Award” from the National Heritage Board. I am pleased to hear that this year, Nam Hwa was selected as the Overseas Teochew Opera Heritage Centre of the Guangdong Chao Opera Institute.
Our arts inspire us, deepen our sense of belonging and national identity, as well as strengthen our commitment to building a better future together. With shared culture and experiences, we can better build empathy and understanding among us. Our arts, including Teochew opera, have come a long way in Singapore.
My heartfelt congratulations to Nam Hwa Opera on your success. I am sure that you will continue to bring the charm of Singapore's traditional culture and arts to people of all ages and across all ethnic groups. I wish you the very best.