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A vibrant and cohesive home where diverse dreams thrive

Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law at the Committee of Supply Debate 2024

Mr Chairman,


  1. Over the last few days, we have discussed and debated many serious policy announcements in this House – 
    • from tackling immediate cost of living issues and concerns and creating good jobs for Singaporeans, to re-shaping our economy,
    • to meeting housing demands, reimagining the future of education and our response to climate change, to name a few.
    • many of these are policies strike at the heart of Singapore’s long-term interests.
  2. These are some very important matters for Singapore and Singaporeans; some are even existential ones.  
    • We must get these policies right, 
    • and we must obtain Singaporeans’ support on them.
  3. But equally important is for us to achieve them together, as one people, 
    • united in our cause, with a collective vision and a shared aspiration for Singapore’s future.
    • This is the spirit of Forward SG led by  DPM Lawrence . 
    • Which brings to mind the old African proverb: – 
      • “If you want to go fast, go alone.  But if you want to go far, go together”.  
  4. Indeed, we have to go together. Our unity has been the strength behind every success in our history. 
    • Few societies in the world have succeeded in societal harmony, let alone one that is as richly diverse as ours. 
    • According to a post-pandemic survey by the Pew Research Centre, Singapore was among the small minority of countries that grew more united after the pandemic.
  5. In today’s increasingly divided world – fraught with war, rising inequality, misinformation, populist movements, and political disenchantment – this unity is all the more rare and precious. 
    • It is ours to cherish and protect, if Singapore is to succeed in its next chapter. 
  6. This is why it is fitting that MCCY brings up the end of the COS Debates. 
    • Our work is diverse – from developing the arts and sports, stewarding our treasured heritage, to empowering youths, corporates and community to give back, care for others and come together to build Singapore. 
    • At the heart of everything we do is our goal to foster unity, cohesion and the unique Singapore identity. This underscores all that we do at MCCY.

    Celebrating our heroes in sports and the arts 
  7. And is the powerful unifying force that help us transcend our differences. 
    • We see this come to life when we rally behind our national heroes in sports and in the arts. 
    • Dr Syed Harun made an impassioned speech yesterday noting that, when:
      • Joseph Schooling won his Olympic Gold; 
      • Or when Loh Kean Yew became World Champion; or
      • When Shanti took on the very best in Asia, and beat them all.
    • We all remember and cherished those moments.  
    • Feel proud of their sporting achievements.
    • But even prouder, because each of these athletes represent something in each of us, and collectively, as Singaporeans.
    • It ignites our shared Singapore spirit.
  8. In the same way, our history is brightly lit with the many cultural icons who have inspired and united us.
    • Dr Iskandar Jalil is a master at pottery, but also creates  poetry with his hands. . 
    • And the late Santha Bhaskar, who exemplified a deep appreciation for diversity, and embodied multiculturalism throughout her life’s work. 
    • Beyond sporting and artistic successes, these stories also teach us about strength, resilience, creativity and excellence – inspiring present and future generations to dream big in  their pursuits of excellence.
  9. This is why even in difficult times, it is so important that we continue to cultivate, nurture, and develop our sportsmen and our artists. 
    • Sir, in my response, I will set out the broad overarching framework of MCCY’s efforts in these areas.
    • My colleagues will develop the details further in their speeches:
      • MOS Low Yen Ling on the arts
      • MOS Alvin Tan on the giving space as well as our youths; and
      • SPS Eric Chua on sports. 
  10. Let me start with sports. 

    Expanding opportunities for young people to develop passion in sports
  11. The most basic goal is to drive interest and participation in sports.  
    • There are obvious strong social benefits, from keeping active and fit, to encouraging inter-mixing and through that, strengthening our bonds and social cohesion. 
    • It is also the basic building block to finding that next wave of high-performing athletes. A broader base leads to a stronger and more sustained pipeline of talent. 
  12. Singaporeans are already getting more active and sporting.
    • According to a national survey by SportSG, sports participation among Singapore residents has risen from 54% in 2015 to an all-time high of 74% in 2022.
    • The sports participation rate for persons with disabilities also nearly doubled from 28% to 54% in the same period. 
  13. It is encouraging. But we want to do more to broaden sporting participation in the community, with a number of initiatives.
  14. First, through accessible sports programmes in the community.
    • Our young can today join sports co-curricular activities (CCAs), take part in the Junior Sports Academy programme in primary schools, ActiveSG programmes or even private academies and clubs. Members will recall, last year we topped up the ActiveSG credits, so that these credits can be used to defray the costs from ActiveSG at any of the programmes. 
    • Even if young people do not come from well-to-do backgrounds, SportCares is a programme that is set up to enable children from low-income families to also be included.
      • For instance, the SportCares Bursary covers seasonal participation fees for 9 ActiveSG Academies & Clubs. The entire season is covered by the bursary. 
      • Other programmes, like the Saturday Night Lights football programme, help to equip youths with holistic life skills, using sport as a medium.
    • At the grassroots level, Singaporeans from all walks of life can take part in exciting community-level competitions and games. .  
      • Members might remember the Inter-Constituency games that were very popular. I am  pleased to announce that this year, PA, working with SportSG will bring back the popular Inter-Constituency and Inter-GRC Community Championship as part of Pesta Sukan, which means Festival of Sports.  
      • This Community Championship will focus on five popular sports to begin with: badminton, basketball, football, pickleball and table tennis.  
      • Teams will compete under their constituency, with a final round amongst GRCs, to determine the national champion.
      • This will no doubt add some competitive spirit to community games .
  15. Second, we have been working on having more sporting facilities close to where Singaporeans live.  
    • In many HDB estates, there are now free-to-play facilities like basketball or futsal courts. Some of them are fenced up, to protect passersby from a stray ball. In many of them, there are also badminton or sepak takraw courts which often double up as pickleball courts.
    • In addition, we are building up an island-wide network of world-class sporting facilities, right in your neighbourhood.
    • One example is the Toa Payoh Integrated Development, in the heart of a mature town. 
      • This new development will have top-notch sporting facilities to cater to a range of activities.
      • This will benefit not only the athletes who train there, but also heartlanders both young and old, who come together to play and bond through sporting activities.
      • There are more such developments coming to heartlands, in areas like Punggol, Clementi, Queenstown, Ang Mo Kio and Hougang.
  16. Third, we recognise that Singaporeans are interested in a broader range of diverse sports, some of which might not yet have mainstream appeal.  We will do our best to broaden the options for Singaporeans to pursue a wider range of sports. 
  17. This is why we are extending the One Team Singapore Fund (OTSF) to 2027 as DPM announced,  and expanding the scope for donations eligible for one-to-one matching.
    • This will catalyse even more support for our national athletes. 
    • Mr Mohd Fahmi Bin Aliman and Mr Darryl David spoke about this, and will be pleased to know that, with OTSF, we will do more for emerging sports that are gaining traction in the community and where our athletes do well on the  international stage .  
    • These additional resources will also mean that these sports can encourage more grassroots participation, and broaden the base, as I noted earlier.
    • SPS Eric Chua will speak more on the expansion of OTSF to include SportCares.

    Empowering differently-abled persons to succeed in sports
  18. Sir, sports is for all.  As we talk about growing the base of participation, we also want to ensure that persons with disabilities (or PwDs) are included. 
    • Over the years, SportSG has retrofitted swimming pools with ramps for wheelchairs at eight ActiveSG Sport Centres, with two more pools being retrofitted by 2025, and we have built eight Inclusive ActiveSG gyms. 
    • We are also on track to make all ActiveSG gyms inclusive by 2026.
  19. Having the hardware and physical set-up to accommodate PWDs is a good step forward.  But we cannot just be satisfied that a PwD can navigate the pools and gyms with barrier-free access, and think that it is enough and stop there.
  20. We have to go further and support them with inclusive programming to build a community, and to also have appropriately trained coaches to run these programmes. 
  21. Today, when you visit our facilities, you can tap into  a range of disability sport and inclusive sport programmes and services.
    • For example, more than 3,000 individuals have attended Disability Awareness Training and various coaching and technical courses to better support PwDs’ participation in sports, to allow them to take place actively in these programmes.
    • There are also learn-to-play programmes such as Yes! I Can and Play-Ability festivals where both persons with disabilities and those without can come together and play sports such as swimming, badminton, basketball, archery and shooting. 
    • SportSG is also developing an inclusive gym train-the-trainer programme, which will be a more structured approach to equip Fitness Instructors with the relevant skills to guide PwDs and recommend suitable exercises for them. 
  22. We therefore fully agree with Mr Ong Hua Han that beyond just setting up the hardware, what matters is how empowered PwDs feel when they exercise in public settings, when they come to our gyms and pools at ActiveSG.
  23. SPS Eric Chua will elaborate more about our initiatives to make sports even more accessible to all. 

    Grooming talents for high-performance sports
  24. Let me turn next to our high-performance sports. 
  25. Overall, TeamSG athletes have done well in 2023.
    • To give some highlights, in the SEA Games 2023, Team Singapore brought home 158 medals and ranked 6th overall. 
      • There were also 8 Games Records, 17 National Records and 40 Personal Bests by TeamSG. 
      • What is more encouraging is that we continued to field a young team.  Athletes under the age of 24 made up the majority of the contingent and delivered outstanding performances.
      • Critically, 30% of TeamSG gold medals were won by debutant athletes at the SEA Games. That gives us tremendous optimism moving forward. 
    • In the Asian Para Games 2023, our athletes delivered their best away performance of all time. 
      • with 8 medals.
      • They shattered collectively 9 National Records including 2 Games Records and achieving 12 Personal Bests.
  26. We now have our sights set on the next Major Games for the  year – the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Paris.

    Supporting Elite Athletes 
  27. Many members have spoken about how we support our elite athletes in high-performance sports. So let me come back to this point. We are constantly on a mission to find our next sporting champion and to create as many options and pathways as possible for athletes to reach their peak. 
    • Champions, like Singapore kitefoiler Max Maeder, who is one of the TeamSG Athletes who will be at the Olympic Games this year. 
      • Max won gold at the Formula Kite Youth World Championships in July.  He followed that on w a Gold in the Asian Games , winning all 16 of his races on his way to that gold medal. 
      • He is the first Singaporean to be nominated World Sailing’s Male Sailor of the Year. He is also leaving this evening, for further training in Europe in preparation for the Olympics. We wish him well. 
  28. For athletes competing at the world level, like Max, and others like Kean Yew and Shanti, we give them the highest level of support. Let me sketch out for members what that means. 
    • They are all on the highest tier of the SpexScholarship programme, which provides a monthly stipend to athletes. This is so that they can be full-time athletes, and free from distractions.  On top of this, we also provide funding for their training and travels for competitions, here and abroad.  
    • They are further supported by a Sports Science team in areas such as Sport Biomechanics, Sport Nutrition, Sport Physiology, and Physiotherapy.
    • We work with them on curated coaching programmes, and help them with diet, sleep, recovery and preparation – just about everything we need to get an athlete competing at peak condition.
    • We will continue to strongly support their quest for sporting excellence, as Mr Daryl David and Dr Syed Harun mentioned.

    Supporting the next tier
  29. For every athlete who has found success, there will be many more just below at the next tier,  aspiring to find their next peak.  We endeavour to support as many of them too, on their journey. Let me also sketch out what we do for them. 
  30. I spoke earlier about broadening the base. This is a critical starting point, if we want to have a strong and sustained pipeline of talent coming through for Singapore.
  31. We therefore work with the NSAs, schools, as well as private sporting academies to identify and track good talent, and give them a structured framework for development, with good coaching and mentorship. 
  32. Our second key strategy is then to put these talents through structured development pathways with comprehensive support programme either by the Sport Science Institute or the NSA. 
    • Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA)’s Junior Development Squad (JDS) is a good example. Over the years, theey have built up a strong pipeline of local talents. We now have Koen Pang, Zhou Jingyi and Izaac Quek. All of them graduated from STTA’s JDS. 
    • STTA and the Singapore Sports School also work closely together to set up the School Within A School programme. This enables our student table tennis athletes to get extended training twice a day with a customised  academic support programme that is worked around their sporting needs. So if they need make up classes or courses outside of their competition period, this programme helps them to cawtch up and keep on par with their classmates. 
  33. We invest not just in the training of our athletes, but also support their sporting journey throughout their  education and subsequently their employment as well.  
    • For athletes still in school, the spexEducation scheme helps them manage both sports and education by supporting them with school admissions, scholarships, and scheduling classes around training and competitions. 
    • For athletes who have finished with school, and are seeking to enter the workforce, they can apply to our spexBusiness partners, including corporates like Grab, CapitaLand, DBS, and Quest Ventures. 
      • We have a program with these employers so that our athletes can work with them but also enjoy flexible work arrangements to accommodate training and competition. 
      • They also provide employment to ex- TeamSG athletes. 
      • To date, more than 400 athletes have been hired under the spexBusiness programme. 
      • But of course, we can do more, and we encourage more corporates to come onto the programme as this programme is only as strong as the number of corporates who enter the programme with us.
    • When athletes need to go for training even if there are not on the spexScholarship or spexBusiness programme there is spexTAG (training allowance grant) to help defray athletes’ training cost; and
    • For those who miss work while preparing for or competing at Major Games, spexGLOW offsets lost wages. 
  34. These are the programmes we have, to support an athlete on their path even as they manage work, school and training for their sport. 
  35. From April 2024, the spexPotential programme will support more youth athletes making the transition to the nextlevel. I spoke earlier about how we had young athletes at SEA Games, debutants who won a third of our Gold medals.  
    • Our spexScholarship has been very successful.  But the bar can be high – often benchmarked at Asian Games medal potential.
    • This could mean that an athlete might sometimes be less supported earlier on in their journey.  
    • The spexPotential programme is a new one that  bridges this gap and offers more support at an earlier stage, allowing more athletes with potential to be supported at an earlier stage of their sporting career. 
    • SpexPotential will provide financial and programmatic support, such as coaching, overseas training and competition, local training, sports science and sports medicine and equipment for our junior athletes.  This will give them more support to realise their potential.

    Expanding opportunities for athletes to compete with world’s best
  36. Next, Mr Xie Yao Quan and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked about our plans for the Sports Hub.
  37. I have spoken at some length earlier this week on the Sports Hub and will not repeat the same points.  Let me reiterate that our vision is to: 
    • establish Singapore and the Sports Hub as the leading sports and entertainment destination in the region, 
    • inculcate a strong sense of affinity between Singaporeans and the Sports Hub, and
    • maximise synergies across the suite of facilities that we have in the Kallang Alive precinct. Kallang Alive is a bigger precinct, Sports Hub occupies about a third of the space, so we got a lot more potential. 
  38. Against that backdrop, Mr Xie Yao Quan says that we should continue to bring more major sporting events to Singapore.  We agree.
  39. The Government will invest $165 million in the Major Sports Events Fund over the next four years to do this.
    • The Sports Hub is already well poised to host many of these events.
    • In addition to the suite of facilities within the Kallang Alive precinct such as the OCBC Arena and Aquatics Centre, there will be new facilities that will be ready soon such as the Kallang Football Hub and the Kallang Tennis Centre. The latter includes 12 outdoor, 7 indoor and 2 mini-tennis courts that will complement the Sports Hub facilities as we plan for more world class sporting events at the Sports Hub.
    • For our TeamSG athletes – hosting such events will also mean more opportunities for you to compete. They get more wildcards when the event is held in Singapore, They test and measure themselves up against the world’s best right here on home ground.  
  40. There are immense benefits beyond those attributable to our athletes. 
    • Singaporeans will get to watch more of the world’s best athletes in action, adding to an already vibrant sporting calendar. 
    • It also boosts economic growth and global recognition, possibly unlocking latent potential in hosting entertainment and sporting events, 
    • and concurrently strengthening Singapore’s reputation as a choice destination for high-signature international events.

    Plans to develop new indoor arena
  41. This segues nicely into Mr Sitoh’s point about the Singapore Indoor Stadium (SIS). 
  42. The hosting of high-quality international events is valuable, and highly sought after.  
    • Our competitors are not standing still, and we, likewise, must continually  innovate and evolve if we want to continue to attract top-tier events.  
  43. The Singapore Indoor Stadium is part of the Sports Hub, but it was built in 1989 and is now more than 30 years old. 
    • Since then, others around the region have refreshed their facilities, with new, modern indoor arenas that are state of the art. 
  44. We believe that it is now an opportune time to develop a new indoor arena that will be among the best-in-class globally.
    • We have gone around to study some of the best arenas in the world, to learn from them.
    • We are considering an arena which can host more sophisticated events, 
    • can flexibly accommodate different types of events,
    • have a faster turnaround time between different types of events (as it will be different between sports and entertainment, which has to be turned around quickly)
    • and offer greater value to spectators such as more varied hospitality suites, better seating and overall experience. 
  45. We are considering for this new arena to be developed adjacent to the current Singapore Indoor Stadium site.
    • This location will continue to give the new arena a synergistic connection to the rest of the Sports Hub and Kallang and allow us to plan events and programming as an entire precinct, benefitting from the economies of scale.
    • It will also allow the current SIS to operate until the new indoor arena is operational.  This minimises disruption to the pipeline of events and programming, which can continue throughout the construction period forthe new arena.  
    • We will also study future plans for the SIS and will provide more details on this when ready. We are currently studying the capacity of this new indoor arena, taking into account existing and upcoming venues. 
    • It should, in our view, at least have the same capacity as the current SIS, and be “future-proofed” so that it can continue to serve Singapore’s interests in the foreseeable future.
    • The new indoor arena will operate alongside the rest of the Sports Hub, offering synergies with the other sporting and community facilities at the Kallang Alive precinct, and seek to further inject vibrancy to the precinct.

    Arts and culture 
  46. Sir, let me now move to our arts and culture sector. 
    • Ms Usha Chandradas made an impassioned speech yesterday event and asked about our plans to transform and grow the arts ecosystem. 
  47. Like sports, the arts and culture have the innate power to inspire, challenge, and connect people. 
    • To quote one of our Cultural Medallion recipients, Singapore poet Prof Edwin Thumboo – 
      • “Art, whatever its form, helps to define the texture, the rhythm, imagery, symbolism, energy of life in society.”
  48. This is why the arts is so important in our society.  Singapore is a multicultural society, 
    • Where the tapestry of our nation is so woven by the colourful threads of our unique diversity. 
  49. And because of this, we have a special heritage to preserve, which in turn spawns its own unique art forms in Singapore.
    • It is not everywhere in the world that you can enjoy poetry in a range of languages, all of which we can associate with, including dialects and Singlish, and have both traditional and contemporary forms of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.
    • I mentioned the late Santha Bhaskar earlier.  She epitomises our multi-cultural spirit so well.
      • Santha formed friendships with other dancers, who are also Cultural Medallion recipients – ballet-trained Goh Lay Kuan,
      • And Malay dancer Madam Som Said. 
      • They learnt each other’s dance styles, and appreciated the beauty of each other’s culture, which infused into the expression of their craft. That is special, unique, and that is Singapore. 
    • This story reflects a distinctive feature of our arts and culture sector that we must continue to cherish, the shared multi-cultural diversity that Mr Sitoh Yih Pin spoke about.
    • We will continue to support our arts practitioners. 
    • Let me give members an update and explain why I am confident about the arts in Singapore as we seek to make the leap into the next level.

    Progress of the arts and culture sector
  50. Sir, our arts and culture sector has come a long way over the last 10 years. 
    • It has become more vibrant and arts appreciation more widespread. 
    • The average number of arts and culture events per day has risen steadily to more than 120 in 2022, almost double of what it was 10 years before.
    • More people are enjoying the arts. Arts in-person attendance in Singapore has grown to 59% in 2022, from 48% back in 2011. 
    • If you include digital attendance, which is all the rage post COVID and a common way to access the arts these days, that figure goes up to 83%. 
    • We have also developed top-class national institutions like the Esplanade, National Gallery of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, and STPI Creative Workshop and Gallery. 
      • This is complemented by a rich array of private institutions including the ArtScience Museum and The Private Museum,
      • As well as private spaces like Artspace@Helutrans.
    • And we have a number of established arts companies today, reflecting the diversity of culture I mentioned earlier, including companies like Nadi Singapura, Bhaskar's Arts Academy, and Ding Yi Music Company which offer a range of different art forms, genres, representing all of us, a diverse cross section of Singapore’s ethnic and cultural make up. 

    Singaporean artists bringing Singapore to the world
  51. At the same time, our homegrown artists are rapidly establishing themselves on the world’s stage and bringing Singapore to the world.
    • Multidisciplinary artist, Robert Zhao will be showcasing his work titled “Seeing Forest” at the upcoming Venice Biennale 2024 next month, one of the world’s most prestigious platforms to showcase contemporary art.
    • Our young singer-songwriter Shazza was featured on a billboard at the iconic Times Square in New York City last year as part of Spotify’s EQUAL campaign which spotlights women in music from around the world.
    • Singapore Chinese Orchestra presented “Legends of Nanyang” in Shanghai, and later this year will be in Suzhou, Tianjin and Beijing.  
    • Singapore Ballet will open the Gala event at Washington’s Kennedy Center’s 10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography in June 2024. They will present the late Cultural Medallion Goh Choo San’s chorography momentum.  
    • Singapore Symphony Orchestra  has been invited by the Asia Orchestra Week to perform in Japan, and will do so in the Kyoto Concert Hall in October 2024.
  52. This example and many more show that Singaporeans are already  present at the top table at many events including our own flagship festivals, 
    • such as the Singapore International Festival of Arts, Singapore Writers Festival, and Singapore Art Week. 
    • These festivals draw strong international crowds. At the same time, they allow Singaporeans to access the best in the world as they come and exhibit in Singapore.
    • Singapore Art Week, or SAW, has grown annually to encompass more areas and districts in Singapore.
      • Arts businesses like art galleries and ceramics studios have actively participated in SAW to grow access to new audiences and markets.
      • In SAW 2024, we had 183 art events across the 10-day festival, with the majority organised by such companies.  We also had a very strong international presence.

    Multiple education pathways to build a strong pipeline of talent 
  53. If you are a young creative today, there are many more pathways to pursue an arts education and make something out of it.
  54. The School of the Arts (or SOTA), our first specialised pre-tertiary arts school, was set up precisely to do this. 
    • SOTA graduates go on to pursue careers in the arts, or tap on their arts-enriched educational experience to embark on diverse careers.
  55. At the tertiary level, those interested in the arts can also pursue diploma programmes 
    • at Republic Polytechnic’s School of Technology for the Arts, 
    • courses at the School of Art, Design and Media at NTU, 
    • Yong Siew Toh Conservatory at NUS, 
    • or the degree programmes offered by Singapore’s first arts university, the University of the Arts Singapore (UAS).
  56. UAS, established as an alliance between local arts institutions, LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), will welcome its first intake in August this year. 
    • Both these arts institutions have an impressive faculty and alumni who have earned national recognition, and championed Singaporean creativity on the global stage.
  57. MCCY and NAC have been working closely with MOE and UAS to ensure that there will continue to be good opportunities for arts graduates. It is one thing to have these courses and programmes, it is another to ensure that when they graduate, there is a space for them in the creative economy. 

    Helping our artists grow in the creative economy
  58. These education pathways have in turn built up a strong pipeline of talent which can flow into the creative economy, where the range of job options have also expanded.
  59. An example is Guo Ningru, a sound designer with more than a decade of experience designing sound for both local and regional productions. I met her when she received the Young Artist Award in 2022.
    • Ningru pursued a degree at LASALLE College of the Arts, specialising in Sound Design.
    • She received NAC’s National Arts Scholarship and furthered her education at the renowned Sound Design programme at University of California Irvine.
    • As a creative entrepreneur, Ningru creates 360-degree soundscapes, where audiences are immersed in an aural world.
    • What struck me about Ningru is that she is passionate and creative in a very discreet area of the arts. Sound engineering is where you deliver sound of the stage to the audience. She developed a deep interest in it, and is now highly schooled and well-educated in this area. She is now working in this area, free-lancing and working with different companies both local and regional as a creative entrepreneur. That is what we want to see. 
  60. We now have a vibrant and spontaneous group of freelancers supporting the arts economy.
    • About 1 in 3 arts and heritage workers is a self-employed person, SEP. 
    • Working in a wide range of roles, arts SEPs primarily take on gig work and generally do not have structured support from employers to support their training or career development.
    • But they are very critical to the continued success and growth of the arts ecosystem.  They play a vital role that adds to the vibrancy of the ecosystem. 
  61. NAC will do more to support the development of multiple pathways of training for arts SEPs. 
    • They can look forward to a wider range of development opportunities curated to fit their training needs and nature of work. 
  62. Increasing support will help arts SEPs seize better work opportunities across a wider range of job roles, and in turn boost the long-term growth of the sector. MOS Low will speak more about this. 

    Our SG Arts Plan
  63. In order to sustain this growth, and push the envelope even more, we will need a concerted plan as well as the collective buy-in from all Singaporeans.
  64. In 2018, we launched the first Our SG Arts Plan, to drive the arts forward and provide a structured roadmap for the next five years. 
    • However, things quickly changed with Covid
    • And we saw some shifts in our operating environment and trends, for instance audience preferences and new modalities of art presentation.
    • There was also a greater intersection of sectors like design, fashion, film, architecture, music. They came together in ways that we have not seen earlier. 
    • Some of these shifts became permanent ones.
    • But in all of them, we also saw opportunities. 
  65. Hence, rather than keep with the old plan and let it run its course, we took the opportunity to refresh the plan immediately, with Our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027) last year, after substantial consultations with artists and stakeholders in the sector. 
    • Drawing an analogy from the arts, we changed the script during the intermission. 
    • We saw those shifts and thought  not to waste time, and move quickly to get the arts ecosystem powered and ready for the next bound. 
  66. Under the refreshed plan, we have bold ambitions to further enrich our creative economy, infuse the arts into our everyday lives, and harness the power of the arts for well-being. 
  67. This will be further powered by an injection of $100 million to the arts sector over the next 4 years which the Government has committed, to support the ambitions of our Arts Plan.
    • This is in addition to the existing funding to the arts and heritage sector already provided by the Government.
  68. The arts are essential to the social fabric of Singapore, to the confidence and well-being of our people, and are a source of livelihood for many Singaporeans. We want to maintain, if not push that even further. 
  69. MOS Low will share more details in her speech.
  70. But I want to close this section with an appeal.
  71. Sir, we have seen how valuable our arts practitioners are, in preserving our special identity and fostering cohesion and multi-culturalism.  
    • We have seen our arts ecosystem grow and evolve, over the years. 
    • Our practitioners and arts companies have also matured, evolving with society, challenging us with art which tells our stories, manifesting our fears and reflecting our dreams.
    • We have young creatives being given options to enter the creative workforce – and like Ningru, grab them  with both hands.
    • We also have many artists who are performing on the international stage, knocking on the door of world recognition.
    • We have consciously nurtured arts patronage and support from donors, who are playing their part to sustain the arts, supported by Government funding and programs such as the Cultural Matching Fund which we extended a couple of years ago.
  72. Sir, what we now need is a Singaporean audience prepared to support and appreciate our artists.  
    • Attend the exhibitions, see them perform on stage, attend the festivals, go to their concerts – and be prepared to pay for these performances as we do for many other foreign acts.
    • This is what would really help our artists level up, and scale even greater heights, a collective appreciation and support by the Singaporean audience. 
  73. They need this collective support and together, I believe we can harness its transformative power to uplift the entire nation, and build on the strengths of our diversity and multi-culturalism to achieve social cohesion and a stronger sense of national identity.

  74. We do not achieve our dreams alone, but together.  This is true for all our athletes and artists as I have sketched out, and for all of us as heroes of our own stories as well. 
  75. In the spirit of Forward SG, we want a society
    • Where no one is left behind; 
    • Where those who succeed give back and invest in the dreams of others; Pay it forward and
    • Where everyone brings more to the table, and as a result, we all get more in return, where we are all collectively stronger as a sum of our parts. 
  76. We are stepping up our efforts to promote civic engagement and giving back. 
    • We will also consciously provide more space for citizens to lead the change they want see in areas they care about, and the government will come in to support them.
    • MOS Tan will share more on these efforts. 
  77. Mr Chairman Sir, there is no one Singapore dream. No uniform pathway of success. 
  78. What matters is that we live in a society that values our diverse passions and aspirations, and that there are opportunities for us to achieve our fullest potential. 
    • And through ups and downs, we know that our fellow Singaporeans will be there to inspire us, lift us up and give us the boost we need to cross the finish line. On this note, I would like to thank the various cuts that have been made from all sides of the house, as well as our GPC members. There have been many good and constructive suggestions and comments, and I would like to thank our team in MCCY and our agencies, who have worked hard to ensure that the policies that we devise meets the needs of Singaporeans and comes closer to the end points that I mentioned earlier, for cohesion, identity and transformative strength. 
  79. That is why we will continue to work hard, to build a  vibrant and cohesive home. 
    • A Singapore where Singaporeans continue to dream and have the courage to chase down those dreams.
  80. Should we achieve this together, I am confident that Singapore’s best days are ahead of us.
Last updated on 15 March 2024