Renaissance City Report Executive Summary



1. The arts and cultural scene of Singapore has made good strides since the 1989 Report of the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts. The development of institutions and infrastructures has put in place much "hardware" for culture and the arts. It is now necessary to give more focus on the "software" aspect.


2. The Ministry of Information and The Arts (MITA) has produced a report, in consultation with members of the cultural community, that articulates a vision of Singapore as a world-class city supported by a vibrant cultural scene, and outlines the strategies required to take Singapore there.


3. This Report has two aims:


(a)     To establish Singapore as a global arts city. We want to position Singapore as a key city in the Asian renaissance of the 21st century and a cultural centre in the globalised world. The idea is to be one of the top cities in the world to live, work and play in, where there is an environment conducive to creative and knowledge-based industries and talent.


(b)      To provide cultural ballast in our nation-building efforts. In order to strengthen Singaporeans' sense of national identity and belonging, we need to inculcate an appreciation of our heritage and strengthen the Singapore Heartbeat through the creation and sharing of Singapore stories, be it in film, theatre, dance, music, literature or the visual arts.


Benchmarking Cities


4. It is useful to look at comparative data across cities to obtain a clearer picture of where Singapore stands in terms of cultural development. While we are in the top league of cities in terms of economic indicators, we fare less well on the cultural indicators, in terms of talent pool, facilities, activities, audience figures and level of state funding for the arts. We should aim to reach a level of development that would be comparable to cities like Hong Kong, Glasgow and Melbourne in 5-10 years. The longer term objective would be to join London and New York in the top rung of cultural cities.


Culture and Creativity in the Future Economy


5. Culture and the arts are important to us because they enhance our quality of life, contribute to a sense of national identity and add to the attractiveness of our country.


6. Apart from the direct economic benefits that accrue to arts and cultural activities, creative and artistic endeavours will also play a decisive role in the future economy. To ensure sustained growth in the long run, Singapore must forge an environment that is conducive to innovations, new discoveries and the creation of new knowledge. Knowledge workers will gravitate towards and thrive in places that are vibrant and stimulating. Building up a cultural and creative buzz will thus help us to attract both local and foreign talents to contribute to the dynamism and growth of our economy and society.


Vision of a Renaissance Singapore


7. Renaissance Singapore will be creative, vibrant and imbued with a keen sense of aesthetics. Our industries are supported with a creative culture that keeps them competitive in the global economy. The Renaissance Singaporean has an adventurous spirit, an inquiring and creative mind and a strong passion for life. Culture and the arts animate our city and our society consists of active citizens who build on our Asian heritage to strengthen the Singapore Heartbeat through expressing their Singapore stories in culture and the arts.

Roles of the Players


8. In order for this to happen, the state, the arts community, the private sector and individual Singaporeans will have their own roles and responsibilities to fulfil. The state and the private sector must provide support and space for the development of the arts. The arts community must strengthen its sense of professionalism and accountability. The private sector and individual citizens must engage in a fruitful and symbiotic partnership with the arts community.

9. Six key strategies for developing the arts and heritage sectors are proposed:


i). Develop a strong arts and cultural base


          Expose students to the arts as an aesthetic experience as well as to broaden their understanding and appreciation of the creative possibilities in our world. The current Arts Education Programme should be expanded with additional funding of another $400,000 per annum. Consider expanding the role of the Arts Education Council to include overseeing the systematic introduction of arts education at the junior college, secondary and primary school levels.

          Set up a Singapore Studies Department or Programme at the NUS to offer courses relating to the people, society, heritage and culture of Singapore.

          Allocate $500,000 a year for the next 5 years for the National Arts Council (NAC) to fund or undertake research and documentation projects in culture.


ii) Develop flagship and major arts companies


          Allocate to NAC an additional $5 million per annum over the next 5 years to support up to 8 major arts companies. Funding could be on a 2-year cycle to give arts groups greater flexibility.

          Provide $200,000 per annum to develop technical and managerial skills among our arts and heritage managers and administrators.


iii) Recognise and groom talent


Mount concerted effort to discover, groom and recognise artistic talents. Initiatives recommended include:


          Beef up scholarship funding by $300,000 per annum to send local and foreign talents for training.

          Set up a "New Artist Discovery Scheme" with an initial sum of $200,000 per annum to fund promising projects proposed by fresh talents.

          Accord greater recognition to Singaporean artists or arts groups who have attained high standards of excellence in their field. They could be designated as cultural ambassadors or recognised as arts laureates. Create an annual $200,000 fund to support projects or commission works by recipients of Cultural Medallions.

          Upgrade the current Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) into an international event that will include the participation of foreign schools. The Ministry of Education, National Youth Council and NAC should work together to develop the SYF into an event to showcase young and budding talents.


iv) Provide good infrastructure and facilities


          Expand NAC's successful Arts Housing Scheme to include a further 7,000 square metres over the next 5-7 years. Arts housing should expand strategically and systematically to create belts of cultural activities.

          Consider building film-making facilities such as a standard film studio coupled with a digital studio within the next five years to establish Singapore as the regional hub for post-production work in films.

          Continue to cater for good cultural facilities such as the extension of the Singapore History Museum, the refurbishment of Old Parliament House as an arts and cultural centre, and the development of a national arts gallery at Queen Street.


v) Go international


          Allocate an additional $700,000 per annum for NAC to reinforce our efforts to promote our artists overseas and for NHB to bring our exhibitions overseas. This fund can also be used to help our overseas missions showcase our arts and heritage.

          Strengthen cultural relations with other countries to facilitate cultural exchanges and forge partnerships with other cultural agencies.

          Encourage and facilitate international co-productions and collaborations involving Singapore and overseas talent.


vi) Develop an arts & cultural 'renaissance' economy


Create vibrant arts and cultural activities:


          Allocate an additional $1.5 million per annum to make events such as the Singapore Arts Festival and Singapore Writers' Week the leading ones in Asia. Upgrade the National Piano and Violin Competitions into regional competitions.

          Initiate a Sculptural Biennale to showcase sculptures from all over the world in our indoor and outdoor venues, with funding of $500,000 for each Biennale.

          Create a new biennial mini arts festival similar to the Boston arts festival around the Waterloo and Fort Canning areas with funding of $1 million for each festival.

          Develop more outreach programmes such as concerts in the park and lunchtime concerts.

          Seek to host respected arts awards such as the Commonwealth Book Prize on a permanent basis or as often as possible.

          Develop our own prestigious regional art awards. Set up a fund of $1 million over the next 5 years to develop a regional award in the visual arts. Upgrade the Golden Point awards for literature into a regional competition.


Strengthen arts marketing and cultural tourism:


          MITA should work with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to promote arts and cultural tourism through: a) capitalising on opportunities in conferences, conventions and exhibitions (e.g. medical conventions, architectural conventions); b) systematic international marketing of our arts and cultural activities by working with foreign media, travel writers and tourism industry operators; and c) developing an online ticketing system to better promote advance ticket sales for performances and exhibitions in Singapore.

          Set up an Arts Marketing Task Force to systematically develop marketing practices in the arts industry that would attract more audiences and sponsors from Singapore and abroad. This should be supported by $500,000 over 3 years to enable it to commission market research, identify potential marketing opportunities and advise on marketing plans.


Increase incentives for arts sponsorship:


          Study how tax incentives can be extended to encourage corporate sponsorship for culture.


Promote Singapore as an international arts events hub:


          Encourage international arts events to be staged in Singapore. Consider concessionary measures in areas such as the withholding tax on income earned by foreign performing artists and tax on income earned by show presenters from arts productions.

          Set aside $500,000 over 3 years to organise an international performing arts market with an Asian focus to attract our neighbouring countries to sell their arts groups and productions to festival directors and impresarios.

          Promote the development of art auction houses through the judicious use of pro-business packages.


10. These proposals will require an increase in the long-term level of funding for arts and heritage. For a start, MITA is proposing additional funding of $50 million over the next five years for the new programmes and schemes proposed here. This does not include capital expenditure and additional recurrent expenditure from development projects.


11. The Renaissance Singapore vision and recommendations will help us establish a strong position as a premier cultural city in Asia. These initiatives in culture and the arts will demonstrate the Government's resolve in pursuing policies that will secure a bright, vibrant and creative future for Singaporeans in the 21st century