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Singapore Arts Scene 2018 Semester 2

Individual Reflection 5 on Planning the Singapore Arts Scene


Group: Group D
Name: Fu Ruzheng Dean
Admission Number: F17MU0324

After completing the group assignment you should have found out more about the
Singapore Arts Scene and how public policy shapes the scene. Reflect on how you would go
about being a good Minister of Culture in Singapore and give your reasons why. Your answer
should not be less than 1 page.

The state of artistic development in Singapore is a result of the combined efforts of the
politicians in the government, members from the private sector who contribute to the
growth of Singapore’s Arts Scene, and the consumers who partake in artistic events and
enable the creation of new art pieces by local artists. Art, in this context, encompasses a
variety of disciplines ranging from visual art, music, theatre, dance and literature (though
not exhaustive). The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) is a branch of
government that strives to build a more vibrant arts scene in Singapore, through the use of
fiscal policy to support arts education and creation, and the provision of public goods such
as performing venues for concerts. The already implemented Cultural Matching Fund
(where the government supplements donations towards the development of the arts sector
by individuals/organisations from the private sector in a 1:1 ratio) is already a step in the
right direction, but apart from encouraging Singaporeans to consider the arts as a potential
career path, the Ministry has to increase the demand for such local artistic products by
influencing the tastes and preferences of the current market. Such is a lofty but not
completely unattainable goal for Singapore in the years to come.

The Minister of Culture should aim to make the arts as accessible as possible to the general
populace, without limiting the arts to those belonging in the higher income brackets. The
historic notion that art should only be reserved for the aristocracy has long been obsolete,
and with the rise of the middle class, more are turning to the arts as a means of improving
one’s quality of life. The Minister of Culture could serve by lobbying for a greater portion of
the national budget to be dedicated to financing the arts in Singapore. This is to ensure that
the different forms of art (at professional level, rather than merely amateur productions)
are made available to all. Although subsidising the arts (such as by organising free
concerts/art exhibitions for the public) may put a drain on fiscal resources, it might
eventually result in a higher rate of return as the public will develop tastes and preferences
for such art, and will be more willing to spend a portion of their income on patronising the
arts in the future. In the end, the revenue generated from taxing arts companies may be in
turn used to finance other artistic projects, for example the construction of new arts
facilities and/or investment into a more robust arts education for the next generation. It is
integral that the arts is viewed as a major contributor into the overall economy of Singapore,
and as Singapore is gradually being recognised as a cultural hub in Asia, the tourism sector
will experience a boost in revenue, with the possibility of greater foreign direct investment
into Singapore as overseas arts organisations plan to secure a foothold into the local market
in Singapore, thereby leading to an increase in GDP for Singapore.

Another key aspect that the Minister of Culture should aim to tackle is the need to directly
increase demand for artistic products among Singaporeans. Many Singaporean artists are
still struggling to make ends meet from the sale of their art pieces, as Singaporean
consumers are more willing to spend their dollar votes on more pragmatic items such as
clothing or food & drink. This is exacerbated by the fact that Singaporeans in particular
occupy themselves with so many activities in their daily schedule that they barely have
enough time to discover the arts. The Minister of Culture might do well to drive home the
message that art has a positive effect on the well-being of its consumers. A recent research
study from the University of Exeter has concluded that art is able to reduce stress, increase
creativity as well as encourage the expression of opinions and ideas among a majority of
subjects in the workplace and in school. In order to better reach out to Singaporeans, the
Ministry could consider partnering up with social media platforms such as Facebook and
Instagram to feature and provide information on artistic events which are happening in the
vicinity. In addition, the Ministry could prepare short informational articles on arts
appreciation as a foundational introduction to the technical jargon of each artistic discipline,
as most people who are unacquainted with the arts might find it daunting and difficult to
comprehend art, and thus will be unable to derive the full value and understand the inner
complexities of the artwork.

In conclusion, the government’s long-term plans (namely the three-phase Renaissance City
Plan and the subsequent Arts & Culture Strategic Review) to develop the Arts Scene in
Singapore has seen some extent of success as Singapore. Although Singapore does not
possess the rich cultural history that other countries in the Europes or Asia may enjoy, there
is starting to be a definable Singaporean artistic style (more evident in literature, visual art
and music composed by Singaporeans) that draws inspiration from Singaporean history as
well as the current state of affairs that Singaporeans have to deal with in the modern
context. Our sense of multiculturalism has allowed us to create our own unique Singaporean
culture that is immediately identifiable, even so when thrust into the mish-mash of cultures
overseas. However, art in Singapore is confined to a select group of people in the population,
and it falls on the government to try to persuade the people that a life without involvement
in the arts is like a lost piece to a puzzle that prevents one from completing the whole
picture; that art undoubtedly enriches the sensory experience and provokes the mind to
contemplate the worldly issues that surround and plague us today.
Congratulations! You have finished the assignment! Please submit this document through
iLearn latest by 6pm 16th April 2018.