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Fostering the next generation of local contemporary artists

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the President’s Young Talents 2018 Official Opening
03 October 2018

Ms Chong Siak Ching, Deputy Chair, SAM

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good evening. I am very happy to join you tonight at the opening of the 2018 President’s Young Talents exhibition.

2The President’s Young Talents is an award programme for young Singaporean contemporary visual artists aged 35 and below. Not only is it an award, it includes a mentoring, commissioning and exhibition component.  Through the PYT, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the National Arts Council support our local artists, complementing other initiatives such as grants and arts housing, skills training programmes, commissioning and presentation platforms, provided by our cultural institutions.

3I am glad to see that the PYT has made an impact on the artists’ careers. Over the years, numerous artists who have benefited from the PYT’s experience have gone on to create outstanding works and gained stature in Singapore and internationally. For example, Charles Lim and Ang Song-Ming were 2005 and 2015 award recipients, and went on to represent Singapore at the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2015 and 2019 respectively.  Boo Jun Feng, the creative director for this year’s National Day Parade, was also an award recipient in 2013.

4I would like to congratulate this year’s President’s Young Talents artists:

  • Debbie Ding
  • Hilmi Johandi
  • Weixin Quek Chong
  • Yanyun Chen, and
  • Zarina Muhammad.

5. Your works speak to audiences on a wide range of topics, including our shared traditions, history and lived experiences. They are also diverse in concepts and mediums, spanning the disciplines of painting, sculpture, performance and new media.  I hope that these works will encourage deeper conversations on the shared experiences that bind us as a community, and spur our artists to keep pushing their artistic boundaries to create compelling and inspiring works.

6I would like to acknowledge the team of mentors - David Chan, Grace Tan, Jason Wee, Roger Nelson, and Zaki Razak - for guiding our artists in this exhibition. Grace and Zaki are 2013 award recipients who are giving back to the community.  Thank you all for taking the time to share your experiences and expertise with the younger artists. 

7I would also like to express my appreciation to SAM for its continued efforts in nurturing young artists, by providing support, guidance and a platform for them to develop and present their works.  I look forward to SAM continuing to provide such opportunities for young Singapore talent.  As our national contemporary art museum, SAM not only plays a critical role in developing future generations of artists, but also in engaging the wider community through the arts to connect different groups through our shared culture.  This is all the more so with contemporary art, which explores and sparks discussion on the ever-evolving social, cultural and ideological dilemmas we face in today’s modern life.

8Once again, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to the artists whose works have been presented tonight. I encourage all of you to seize this opportunity as a springboard for the future, and wish you the very best in your endeavours.

9. The Government is committed to supporting our artists. We would like to see more opportunities for us, not just to present the arts in the galleries but more importantly in the public and community spaces, so that more Singaporeans can enjoy the beautiful work our artists are producing and start conversations about art in Singapore. I think it is important, for us as Singaporeans, through these conversations, start forming our ideas about what Singapore art should be and then we can talk about a common culture for Singapore. Thank you for being here and supporting Singapore art.

Last Updated: 08 October 2018

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