From: * * * (submitted to newsgroup and archived verbatim as retrievable from Google Groups)
Subject: Spore's Road To Renaissance
Newsgroups: soc.culture.singapore

Date: 1999/12/06

Singapore’s ambition to become a true centre for the arts examined in
new TV documentary by Premiere 12

Singapore’s foremost artists, administrators, critics, historians,
patrons, technicians and academics speak frankly and passionately about
the state of the arts in a new four-part documentary called "The Road to

Commissioned by Singapore Television Twelve for broadcast on their
Premiere 12 channel, the documentary takes a no-holds-barred look at
where the arts in Singapore stand today.

Starting December 7, "The Road to Renaissance" will be telecast over
four weeks on Premiere 12 every Tuesday at 9.30 pm.



“Outside there, people say that Singapore’s art scene is run by
bureaucrats. I am not saying that Singapore’s art scene should suddenly
be run by artists, but it has to be bridged by people from the artistic
community.” ­ Ong Keng Sen, artist

“I always try to find opportunities to get the frank feedback from the
artists. Sometimes when I see an artist speak to the foreign press and
lament on some of the problems that they face in Singapore, I wonder why
they don’t tell me as well.” ­ Liu Thai Ker, NAC


"I don’t make very much but they say “it’s OK because you’re
passionate”. Does it mean that the rest of the world isn’t passionate
about what they are doing in their jobs?... So I feel that just because
we have more passion perhaps, why are we therefore penalised? Why do we
have to get less money? Why do we depend on the whole poverty of
theatre?" ­ Haresh Sharma, artist

“The creative energy tends to be pulled back because of the relatively
lower level of funding. There is the urgency to match the funding closer
to the energy that we know already exists in Singapore.” - Liu Thai Ker,


“One of my problems with the Straits Times in terms of their reviews,
there seems to be an attitude of not taking art that seriously; that
somehow they have to presume that there is this lay person out there and
they want to talk at that level. They should give the audience the
benefit of the doubt, that they can present an intelligent argument &
people can follow it.” ­ Lee Weng Choy, critic

“It’s tricky because as a journalist and as a critic, I have to juggle
different interests between what my editors think is newsworthy stories,
between what people want to read and between the needs of the artists
that feel that they need to be given a voice, or their work bears
analysis. So for someone who has only been on the job for over a year,
I’m still in the process of negotiating.” ­ Clarissa Oon,

“I think the problem is a Singaporean one. I have met other Singaporean
arts practitioners who exhibit the same resistance. Generally, they are
unable to accept critical comments. This is regretful. A definite
stumbling block in the progress of artistic development for Singapore.”
­ Liu Kang, artist


“How could we possibly make it more attractive to students who are
talented to develop their talents rather than feel “we have to learn a
profession first... then maybe if there is time, I'll develop the
talent”. That would be a great loss and a great shame because if I had
done that, I would have never become a musician.” ­ Margaret Leng Tan,

“We still have many problems to address in arts education in Singapore.
There’s not at this stage at the evolution of arts education in
Singapore, a logical flow from beginning to end. We have to think about
a student coming in at the age of 5, 6, 7, going right through primary,
secondary and tertiary education and then going out into the
profession.” -­ Prof. Brian Howard, SIA-LaSalle


“Freedom and responsibility are really 2 sides of the same coin. People
exercise their freedom to take responsibility. I sometimes think that a
society which fears freedom would also not develop in its people a sense
of social respon-sibility...  And any artist worth his or her salt must
be prepared to defend their use of freedom and their exercise of
artistic conscience.” ­ Kwok Kien Woon, Sociologist

“We always feel in Singapore there’s always so much control. So long as
there is this feeling, there’s this control over you, even if you are
not being directly censored, you do feel you do somehow end up censoring
yourself. This fear is the kind of fear when you feel that you don’t
have, you don’t feel empowered to just go ahead.” ­ Daniel Kok, Artist

“I don’t think we should impose, catergorize what is good art, what is
acceptable art what is non-viable arts, each man has his own way of
expression. I think we have reached a stage in Singapore society where
we must allow for that expression to come out.” - Benson Puah, Esplanade


“The arts in the form of  literature, the plays, the movies the songs
the poems they represent a collective memory. And although the national
library won’t be there in years to come, there might be a poem or a play
set at the national library and we need to know who we are before we can
go on. We need artists to collect these memories for us, preserve them.
It’s for our children” ­ Ivan Heng, Artist

“You can talk about Singapore becoming an arts centre in 2 ways. The
first in terms of a commercial enterprise. The one that really interests
me is it being a centre from within and not put on from above or from
outside. That is, for the creative people from within to establish it as
a centre. The persons who are involved in producing art should feel that
this is an important place to make art. Then it becomes a true centre.”
­ TK Sabapathy, Historian

Also speaking out are:

Prof Bernard Chan ­ National University of Singapore
Chen KeChan, Henri ­ Artist
Philip Cheah ­ Singapore International Film Festival
Cheong Fa Cheong ­ Artist
Prof Prem Sham Dasani ­ National University of Singapore
Goh Soo Khim ­ SDT
Amanda Heng ­ Artist
Prof John Howard ­ National Institute of Education
Jamaludin Jamil ­ Artist
Christine Khor ­ Singapore Tourism Board
Prof Tommy Koh ­ Ambassador at large
Gaurav Kripalani ­ Singapore Repertory Theatre
Kwok Kien Chow ­ Artist
Andrea Koh ­ Artist
Janice Koh ­ Artist/Administrator
Casey Lim ­ Artist
Dr Frederike Lohse ­ Deutsche Bank
Liu Chin Choy ­ SSO
Lim Suat Yen  ­ Artist
Dr Earl Lu ­ Patron
Meng ­ Theatre Practitioner
Neo Swee Lin ­ Artist
Ng Siew Eng ­ SDT
Jimmy Ong ­ Artist
Audrey Pereira ­ WOMAD
Sydney Peyroles ­ Alliançe Française
Lena St George Sweet ­ British Council
T. Sasitharin ­ Substation
Tan Siong Hock ­ Ministry of Education
Richard Tan ­ Gunong Sayang Association
Ekachai Uekrongtham ­ Artist
Prof Yew ­ Nanyang Acadamy of Fine Arts
Ramesh Vangal ­ Segrams
Anna Wang ­ Patron

Do tune in to The Road To Renaissance.
A documentary on the state of the arts in Singapore.
9.30pm, Television 12,
Tuesdays Dec 7, 14, 21 & 28, 1999.
Brought to you by STV 12 and Fringe Films.

"This is a significant programme in that it is probably the most
comprehensive documentation of the local arts scene, with an airing of
views from a wide spectrum of artists, arts administrators and
academics. What is working, where we can still improve and what their
hopes for the future are. It's a new generation of art documentaries
that STV12 is committed to producing to support Singapore artists and
the Singapore arts scene." says Executive Producer of the programme at
STV12, Ms Kerry Fulton. Indeed, the 4-part documentary unveils issues
and aspirations relating to four main topics: Structure, Education,
Economics and Creativity.

Commissioned by STV12, "The Road to Renaissance" is another milestone
production for independent film production company Fringe Films ­ whose
production of "Burning Earth" (a documentary film by STV12 and the
Discovery Channel) has been nominated for "Best Documentary" in the
upcoming Asian Television Awards. Other Fringe Films productions for
television include "Opportunities in Crisis", "Streets of Singapore",
"Young Wonders", and "Artitude".

"As a homegrown production company, Fringe Films is honoured to have
been the ones to produce this very important record of Singapore’s arts
industry. As with all our past productions, we are confident that this
new documentary will be well received by Premiere 12 viewers. "The Road
to Renaissance" is a must-see for anyone interested in the arts."
commented Mr William Ang, Managing Director of Fringe Films.

The creative driving force behind this timely documentary is writer and
director, Mr Alan Seah, who has been actively involved in the arts
through his creative communications agency, Generator. The agency counts
among its clients: The Esplanade Co., the Singapore Symphony Orchestra,
National Arts Council, National Heritage Board, TheatreWorks, Singapore
Repertory Theatre, DramaPlus, Tiger Tiger Films (Forever Fever), Fringe
Films, and the Arts Magazine.

"When I was commissioned to direct this documentary, it seemed like a
large responsibility had been placed on my shoulders  - to document the
arts in Singapore as they are today, as honestly and in as unbiased a
way as possible.  Having many friends who are artists and many clients
who are arts leaders and administrators, it seemed like I was in a
unique position to sort through the many passionate points of view and
the ambitious agendas - with the ultimate goal of driving the arts
forward. The result is a labour of love. A small, yet hopefully not
insignificant contribution to our desire to take stock at the turn of
the century." comments Mr Seah.

For further information, please contact Bill Ang at (65) 324 3363.