10 things to know about Singapore's Cultural Medallion

SINGAPORE - On Tuesday (Oct 4), two veteran Singapore artists will receive the Cultural Medallion from President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana. They are calligrapher, painter and poet Koh Mun Hong, 64, and singer and vocal coach Nona Asiah, 86.

Here are 10 things to know about Singapore's highest cultural honour.

1. It was created in 1979, an initiative by the former President of Singapore, the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong, who was then Minister of Culture.

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Deputy Prime Minister Ong Teng
Cheong conducting the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 1993. PHOTO: ST FILE

2. The first batch of Cultural Medallion recipients were: Madam Madhavi Krishnan (dance), Professor Edwin Thumboo (literary arts), Dr Choo Hoey (music), David Lim Kim San (music), Bani Buang (theatre) and Wee Beng Chong (visual arts).

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(Clockwise from top left): Madam Madhavi Krishnan, Professor Edwin Thumboo, Mr Wee Beng Chong and Dr Choo Hoey. PHOTOS: NATIONAL ARTS COUNCIL SINGAPORE, LIM WUI LIANG, WEE BENG CHONG, ONG WEE JIN

 

3.  The Young Artist Award was introduced in 1992 to encourage the development of artists under the age of 35. Recipients of the award also receive a grant of $10,000 to support their artistic pursuits and development. This was later increased to $20,000 in 2011.

4. Film was included as one of the recognised artistic fields in 1997.

5. The first person to receive a Cultural Medallion for film was director Jack Neo, in 2005.

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 Director Jack Neo at a press conference for his movie 'Ah Boys To Men 2' in 2013. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

6. The most number of Cultural Medallion recipients in a single year was seven - in 1986 and 1990. They included the likes of the late dancer-choreographer Goh Choo San, pioneering Malay playwright Nadiputra, the late conductor Paul Abisheganaden, and Indian classical dance choreographer Santha Bhaskar.

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(Clockwise from top left): Dancer-choreographer Goh Choo San, playwright Nadiputra, Indian classical dance choreographer Santha Bhaskar, conductor Paul Abisheganaden. PHOTOS: SDT, BERITA HARIAN, LIM YAOHUI, NATIONAL ARTS COUNCIL SINGAPORE

7. These are the artists who have received both the Young Artist Award and the Cultural Medallion: theatre director Ong Keng Sen, choral conductor Jennifer Tham, singer-songwriter Dr Liang Wern Fook, theatre director Ivan Heng, theatre director Alvin Tan and playwright Haresh Sharma.

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(Clockwise from top left): Theatre director Ong Keng Sen, choral conductor Jennifer Tham, theatre director Ivan Heng and singer-songwriter Liang Wern Fook. ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, DESMOND LUI, LIM SIN THAI, NG SOR LUAN

8. To date, the Cultural Medallion has been conferred on 121 artists.

9. In 2001, the Cultural Medallion fund was introduced to support its recipients in continuing to influence Singapore's arts landscape. An initial amount of $50,000 was increased to $80,000 in 2007. Recipients have used this funding for a variety of projects, including monographs and exhibitions.

10. As of 2013, recipients are no longer categorised by art form, given the increase in multi-disciplinary art practices.