Creating Cultural Capital that’ll contribute to Singapore's GDP

June 17, 2004

Excerpt from Radio Singapore International broadcast interview that was produced and presented by Augustine Anthuvan. 

How can we create cultural capital that’ll contribute to our GDP?

LSH: “Our arts scene has come a long way in the last 12 years. We have developed our artistic capabilities. We now have some 550 arts groups and some 6000 performances and arts events in a year. So in terms of vibrancy, in terms of the arts capital, I think we’ve come a long way although our starting point was a very low level”.

Lee Suan Hiang, Chief Executive Officer of the National Arts Council. He feels Singapore would now need to better deploy the arts capital that’s been developed over the years, in order to increase its contribution to Singapore’s GDP.

LSH: “And in all the countries in the world there is a recognition that the creative industries sector is a fast moving one. In fact it is one of the fastest growing sectors and one of the fastest growing contributors to the GDP. In the UK for example, the creative industries which comprise the arts, design and media make up some 7.9% of the GDP. In Singapore the contribution is currently 3%. Our objective is to double that to 6% by the year 2012. I think this goal of doubling Singapore’s contribution from the creative industries from 3% to 6% of the GDP is achievable because if you look at what is being achieved in cities like London, in New York, in Tokyo, you’ll find that this is a very fast growing sector and I think this is very achievable in Singapore”.

But some of the feedback that I’ve gathered over the course of this production is that there is also not enough being allocated on software meaning – training, scholarships, grants. But of course some of this is also private sector driven in terms of sponsorship. Do you think this is a fair comment that’s coming out from the practioners and the people on the ground?

LSH: “Well there are a lot of myths and realities and one of the myths is that arts funding has declined. I think this is not the case. In fact arts funding has increased four fold in the last ten years. Many of our artistes and arts groups look at grants in isolation. If you look at arts funding in total, last year we gave out some S$11 million in grants as well as financial assistance to artistes and arts groups. Not just in terms of arts grants but also in terms of helping the artistes to perform and to exhibit overseas. And that financial assistance has grown by 5% since last year. So I would say that a lot of people may have the mistaken notion that arts funding has declined but it has in fact grown by four times in the last ten years”.