The Arts Housing Scheme


The Arts Housing Scheme was implemented in 1985 to provide practice and administrative space to arts groups at subsidised rent. Its main purpose is to give arts groups a home within which they can develop their activities and thereby help to foster a culturally vibrant society.


Under the Scheme, tenants pay 10% of the rental charged by Singapore Land Authority, while the National Arts Council (NAC) subsidises the remaining 90%.


The Arts Housing tenants are selected based on good track record, managerial strength, artistic standard, level of activity and growth potential. In addition, they are assessed on their need for housing, merit of planned activities and commitment to organisational and artistic development.


There are mainly two types of arts housing properties:


The third type of arts housing involves co-locating an arts group with non-arts tenants in a single complex.


Locating arts housing


Several properties identified for use under this Scheme are pre-war or old buildings such as warehouses and old shophouses. The use of such buildings to house arts groups provides an important impetus for artistic creativity. The arts have been known to help revitalise and give added-value to new developments in forgotten areas.


URA works closely with NAC to identify suitable state-owned buildings for arts use. Two arts belts have been developed – one in Waterloo Street and the other at Chinatown – through the strategic planning and siting of several arts housing properties in these areas.


To date, over 90 arts organisations and artists (66 arts organisations and 32 artists) are housed in 19 buildings, 20 units of shophouses and 2 co-located facility in Marine Parade (Marine Parade Community Building) and Ghim Moh (Ulu Pandan Community Building).


The Waterloo Street Arts Belt


The Waterloo Street Arts Belt is envisioned to serve as a unique point for arts activities in the heart of the city. It was restored and developed over five years at an approximate cost of $7 million. The arts groups housed in the arts belt are ACTION Theatre, the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore, Dance Ensemble Singapore, Young Musicians’ Society and Sculpture Square.


Besides serving the objective of arts housing, the arts belt plays a larger role of showcasing the vibrant arts scene in Singapore and providing space for talents to create and test their works. On this street alone, one could sample the works of various disciplines – music, dance, drama, sculpture and visual arts. The activities carried out by the arts groups add character and vitality to the area.