Efforts to ensure longevity of traditional art forms

We thank photojournalist Seah Kwang Peng for his feature ("Long live Teochew opera!"; April 28).

The feature spotlights the colourful world of Teochew opera, while reflecting deeper concerns about the need to preserve this historic art form.

Its profiling of the troupes, whose shows are mainly supported by temples and clan associations, underlines both the relevance and challenges of Chinese opera in today's modern society.

Beyond the troupes mentioned, we wish to highlight other Teochew opera groups that are actively promoting and cultivating interest in the art form, adding significantly to the vibrancy of our arts scene.

These include long-established groups, such as the Er Woo Amateur and Dramatic Association and Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association, as well as relatively newer entrants to the scene, such as Nam Hwa Opera.

All three groups hold ticketed performances regularly in theatre venues that are open to the public, such as the Drama Centre and Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre.

In addition to raising the professionalism of the sector through training and research, the National Arts Council (NAC) recognises the need for a more sustained approach in ensuring the longevity of these traditional art forms.

This includes the need to grow a healthy audience base, which the council is actively seeking to expand by leveraging popular platforms, such as the ongoing Singapore Heritage Fest and the Mid-Autumn Festival @ Gardens by the Bay, to commission quality traditional arts programmes and deepen understanding of the theatre form.

There are also ongoing efforts in our schools to reach the young.

In the year ahead, we will focus new energies on documenting our traditional arts narratives, and partnering groups to capture their cultural legacies, while pulling together the industry to nurture our next generation of traditional arts makers.

In addition, we are developing Stamford Arts Centre as a traditional arts-focused space to drive interesting and engaging content for all.

NAC, which supports the traditional art forms of Singapore's major ethnic groups, encourages audiences to understand one another's cultural roots, and hopes more Singaporeans will support Chinese opera.

We look forward to partnering the larger community to sustain and grow these art forms, which make up our shared heritage and have become a rich source of distinctive and original Singapore content.

Elaine Ng (Ms)
Director, Traditional Arts Sector
National Arts Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Efforts to ensure longevity of traditional art forms'. Print Edition | Subscribe