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Supporting the arts for all

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at the Patron of the Arts Awards 2018

04 July 2018

Professor Chan Heng Chee, Chairman, National Arts Council,

Patrons and supporters,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good evening. It is my pleasure to be here this evening, as we honour and thank all of you for your support to the arts in Singapore.

2. In 2017, you have generously given $51 million to over 100 artists and arts organisations. I am glad to learn that of the 302 award recipients, over 80 are new patrons. I hope that more and more people will recognise the value of the arts and give to it.

3. Mr Gerard Ee, Chairman of the Charity Council, was quoted by The Straits Times1 to have said this: “People don’t support organisations, but causes. They want to know why they’re giving”. Indeed, we are noticing a similar trend in the arts sector, where donors such as yourselves want to support meaningful causes.

Engaging and caring for our communities

4. In 2017, we saw new donors coming forward to support social objectives such as caring for the underserved. The arts create opportunities for individuals and corporations to contribute to Singapore and Singaporeans. I was encouraged to learn about Mr Kenneth Kam, a first-time recipient of the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award. Mr Kam’s contributions to the Artist-in-School Scheme have enabled special education (SPED) schools such as Grace Orchard School and Pathlight School to organise arts education sessions for their students to learn from practising artists.  This allows students with special needs to deepen their understanding and appreciation of different art forms. Experiences like these go a long way in empowering the less privileged, and support the government’s objective of improving accessibility to the arts for everyone.

5. It is also heartening that donors supported programmes which harnessed the power of art to bring people together. BinjaiTree’s contributions, for example, enabled OH! Open House to bring art tours to various neighbourhoods. These tours opened up spaces for people to experience art outside of formal settings such as museums. In addition, local artists could experiment with ways to give new meaning to everyday spaces, while visitors were challenged to think deeper about their lived environments.

6. Thanks to your generosity, more people have come together to enjoy the arts. Yunnan Realty is a new Patron whose donation has supported the Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre (SCDT) in reaching out to more than 30,000 people, through close to 100 programmes. Among these were large-scale events that brought Chinese Dance to the public for free. As audiences come together to enjoy and support the arts through such programmes, this promotes common memories, experiences and values that unite us as one people.

Nurturing young talents

7. Another area which donors found meaningful is that of nurturing young talents. One such example is DBS Bank, which gave to Pangdemonium’s NextGen Education programme. This is a community outreach series of workshops and master classes in various theatre disciplines, which seeks to fuel the creative instincts of young minds and share the practicalities of the craft of theatre making.

8. The value of investing in our arts practitioners of the future is also shared by Mr Goh Yew Lin, who supports the training of actors through the Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI)’s Acting Programme, which develops the ability to work in a variety of contemporary theatre genres and forms. With strong patronage towards programmes that support young talents, our youth can look forward to new opportunities and platforms to uncover and nurture their potential of artistic talents.

9. Besides this, Mr and Mrs Goh Yew Lin are also staunch supporters of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). To celebrate Mr Goh’s father’s 85th birthday in 2017, friends and family raised around $2 million in donations and pledges, which will support the concertmaster chair and operations of the SSO.

10. While we acknowledge the new donors and the new causes, we do not forget the contributions of stalwarts who have been giving year after year to support the growth of our arts scene. I would like to thank and acknowledge long-time supporters of the arts, such as Far East Organisation, Keppel Corporation, Marina Bay Sands, Ngee Ann Development Pte Ltd, Singapore Press Holdings, Temasek Foundation Nurtures, The Ngee Ann Kongsi, and United Overseas Bank. Their contributions play a critical role in supporting the government’s investment in developing artistic excellence and bringing arts to the community.

Reaching new audiences

11. In addition, in line with our national efforts to harness technologies, and big data to co-create solutions, I am happy to see our arts groups leveraging technology to reach new audiences with the support of private resources.

12. For example, Samsung Asia Pte Ltd’s donation of 50 Samsung Galaxy tablets have allowed National Gallery Singapore’s visitors to have free on-site access to the Gallery Explorer App. This is an interactive guide that provides rich information of the Gallery’s exhibitions, artworks and events, doubling up as a navigation guide within the Gallery. Further enhancing the Gallery’s digital capabilities is Accenture Singapore, which employs QR code scanning technology, and soon, augmented reality, to link digital artworks to its permanent collection, thus opening up new ways for the public to engage with the arts.


13. In conclusion, the arts provide meaningful opportunities for people to give back to society. As patrons of the arts, your support will go a long way in furthering artistic development and excellence in Singapore. Your continued support not only brings people together through the arts, it leaves a legacy of our very own Singaporean culture to be shared with many more generations of Singaporeans to come.

14. Many of you would also know that NAC is working on the Strategic Plan for the arts sector, in consultation with the arts community and stakeholders. This plan aims to articulate NAC’s vision for the next five years, as well as to define the strategies, goals and outcomes that will guide our work in building the future of the arts in Singapore. It will be released later this year and we look forward to your continued support in the next phase of development for our arts sector.

15. Thank you for your invaluable support for the arts. I wish you an enjoyable evening ahead.


Last Updated: 05 July 2018

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