School plants the seeds for an art ecosystem

An arts school's purpose should not be narrowly defined by the number of artists it produces.

The local art landscape is harsh, and the international one treacherous. I barely survived my first five years as a full-time artist. From personal experience, I find the general mindset of the "starving artist" a valid one.

While economically rewarding careers can be found in the form of academic positions or tenures in art institutions, one must also keep in mind the scarcity of such positions and the dearth of new positions relative to the number of graduating art students every year.

The School Of The Arts (Sota) students who chose alternative paths will go on to become leaders in their own fields. They could be the marine engineer who prints an art calendar, the investment firm manager who commissions art as corporate gifts, or the doctor who buys art for his clinic.

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All the students who pass through the doors of Sota form an important part of this art ecosystem, regardless of whether they further their art education.

They and their children will be what makes Singapore's art scene flourish; and Sota will be remembered as the place where the seed was first planted.

Aaron Gan Ming Chern

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'School plants the seeds for an art ecosystem'. Print Edition | Subscribe