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Supporting local and regional artists

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize Award Ceremony

29 June 2018

Mr Edmund Cheng, Chair, Singapore Art Museum

Mr Kenneth Choo, Trustee, Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation and Managing Director, Heineken Asia Pacific

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good evening. I am happy to join you tonight for the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize award ceremony.

2. I would first like to thank the APB Foundation for its generous support for this Prize over the years. The Prize is one of the largest in Asia Pacific, worth a total of $100,000. By conferring recognition to outstanding works, the Prize has raised the standard and profile of contemporary visual art in the region. It has helped launch the careers of many artists by granting exposure on the regional stage. It has also brought contemporary art closer to the people by making it more accessible. My thanks to APB Foundation and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) for presenting this event, as well as the National Museum for providing such a lovely venue to showcase the works of the award finalists.

Congratulating award finalists

3. To the 15 award finalists here tonight – congratulations to all of you! Your outstanding works have been shortlisted from 113 entries across 46 countries, and by an esteemed panel of regional contemporary art experts. This speaks not only of the prestige of the award, but also the vibrancy of the contemporary art scene in the region. Your works range from paintings to videos, and cover a variety of topics, from traditional rituals, identities to historical memories. They are diverse and thought-provoking, challenging us to consider societal issues from fresh perspectives, and gain a greater understanding of different cultures.

4. At this point, I would like to make a special mention of the achievements of Singapore artists Shubigi Rao, one of the finalists, and Jack Tan, Wei Leng Tay, Lina Adam and Choy Ka Fai for making the initial shortlist.

Supporting local and regional artists

5. SAM, as a co-presenter of the Prize, has been a longstanding champion of contemporary art talent from Singapore and the region, with Southeast Asian artists featuring in SAM’s exhibitions regularly.

6. As we speak, “Imaginarium” - SAM’s annual family-friendly contemporary art exhibition, is now on. The exhibition includes Indonesian artist Ronald Apriyan’s murals, inspired by childhood songs, and an immersive installation reminiscent of childhood toys by Filipino duo, The GedAze Project. Their works are shown alongside those by Singaporean illustrator Lee Xin Li, and artist-designer Matthew Sia.

7. SAM is set to shine the spotlight on contemporary art from the region by organising the next two editions of the Singapore Biennale, starting in 2019. The last edition in 2016 saw over 600,000 visitors, and featured works by 63 artists and art collectives from 19 countries across Asia. We can look forward to yet another season of dynamic and compelling contemporary art at the next Biennale, alongside extensive public engagement, education and outreach efforts.

8. In Singapore, we have seen much progress in the visual arts sector over the years. For example, this year’s Singapore Art Week welcomed over half a million visitors to its events, three times that of 2017. For next year’s edition of Singapore Art Week, we can look forward to a new curated showcase of art galleries dedicated to Southeast Asian and Asian art at Gillman Barracks. Our residency programmes, offered by various institutions, also provide artists with opportunities for continued development and exposure. Over the last five years, STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery has offered residencies to 25 artists, while NTU’s Centre for Contemporary Art offers residencies to some 20 artists every year.

9. SAM has also been nurturing Singaporean contemporary artists through the President's Young Talents (PYT) platform. Inaugurated by SAM in 2001, the PYT recognises promising artists aged 35 and below, whose practices chart new paths in Singapore. Under the mentorship of established artists, these young talents are commissioned to present new work, culminating in an exhibition every year. Many PYT artists have gone on to develop outstanding work that has placed Singapore on the regional and international art scene, like film-maker Boo Junfeng, artist Donna Ong, and the art collective Vertical Submarine, to name a few.

Reaching out to the community through art

10. Last year, I announced that SAM would be embarking on a revamp to better meet the needs of contemporary art in Singapore. I am happy to share that the revamp is progressing smoothly, with SCDA Architects appointed in April to manage the project. Although the former-SJI building is currently closed to the public, SAM programming continues at 8Q till January next year. Thereafter, while SAM’s venues are slated to be closed for works over the next few years, their work will not stop. SAM’s team will bring art “out of the box” and we can expect more pop-up contemporary art projects as well as touring exhibitions in alternative spaces.

11. SAM will also be launching the “Touch Collection” later this year, as part of the museum’s efforts to build a more caring and inclusive society through art. This initiative will bring the experience of contemporary art to people with visual disabilities, so that they too can enjoy art with their family and friends.

Concluding remarks

12. Finally, I’d like to once again congratulate all award finalists tonight. I wish you all success in your careers.

13. Thank you and have an enjoyable evening!


Last Updated: 02 July 2018

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