Arts groups to get $16.2m in funding

Contemporary dance company Raw Moves will receive a funding of $280,000 from the National Arts Council this year.
Contemporary dance company Raw Moves will receive a funding of $280,000 from the National Arts Council this year. PHOTO: RAW MOVES

The National Arts Council increases grants by about $1 million from what it handed out last year

In 2013, the fledgling contemporary dance company Raw Moves received $80,000 as a Seed Grant from the National Arts Council, which is awarded to support emerging arts groups.

On Tuesday, it received an increment of $200,000 when it was named as one of the 25 arts companies to receive the council's Major Grant this year. The Major Grant is a more substantial grant disbursed to support the long-term development needs of arts groups here.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Raw Moves' artistic director Ricky Sim said: "The funds will be channelled to engage administrative, management and artistic personnel. We will also use it to develop our new community arm and outreach programmes."

The five-year-old company has two full-time staff and six part-time dancers. It is known for staging edgy, experimental works that push the boundaries of dance. Its recent R.e.P season performance featured Bound, a work which transformed the space into a boxing ring where dancers sparred against one another.

In total, the council is giving out $16.2 million in funding to arts groups under its Major and Seed Grant schemes. This is an increase of about $1 million from what it handed out in the last financial year.

  • 2016 grant recipients

  • SEED GRANT

    Objectifs Centre: $150,000

    Young People's Performing Arts Ensemble: $100,000 National Poetry Festival: $50,000

    SAtheCollective: $50,000

    Sing Lit Station: $50,000

    Total given: $400,000


    MAJOR GRANT

    Frontier Danceland: $400,000

    TheatreWorks: $350,000

    National Book Development Council of Singapore: $340,000

    Ding Yi Music Company: $330,000

    Era Dance Theatre: $320,000

    Raw Moves*: $280,000

    Wild Rice: $280,000

    Bhaskar's Arts Academy: $260,000

    Nine Years Theatre*: $250,000

    Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Dance Theatre*: $250,000

    Siong Leng Musical Association: $235,000

    Toy Factory Productions: $230,000

    Dance Ensemble Singapore: $220,000

    Chinese Theatre Circle: $210,000

    Art Photography Centre*: $200,000

    Singapore Drama Educators Association: $200,000

    Paper Monkey Theatre*: $180,000

    Nadi Singapura*: $170,000

    Teater Ekamatra: $165,000

    Chinese Calligraphy Society Singapore: $150,000

    New Opera*: $130,000

    The Observatory: $130,000

    The Philharmonic Winds: $130,000

    Art Outreach: $120,000

    Orchestra of the Music Makers*: $110,000

    Total given: $5.64 million

    *Denotes first-time recipients of the Major Grant

Arts groups applying for the Major Grant must "reflect, express and shape Singapore's cultural identity and values, enrich the lives of audiences, and of different segments of Singapore's community, contribute substantially to the development of Singapore's cultural ecosystem and demonstrate sound management of resources and financial sustainability", according to the council's website.

Those applying for the Seed Grant must have "a clear vision of what they want to achieve, talent and drive to realise their vision, and commitment to establish themselves as a professional, non-profit arts organisation".

Eight arts groups that previously received Seed Grants have been awarded Major Grants this year. These include theatre company Nine Years Theatre and Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Dance Theatre ($250,000 each) and percussion group Nadi Singapura ($170,000).

Other recipients getting a sizeable bump in funding include Indian classical dance troupe Bhaskar's Arts Academy and Chinese music group Ding Yi Music Company, which received Major Grants of $260,000 and $330,000, respectively. Both received a $100,000 increase each from 2013.

Ding Yi's general manager Dedric Wong said that the funds will be used to develop the company's musicians, train staff members and expand its programming.

"We hope to add one more full-time musician to our ensemble. We'd also like to do more collaborations with local performers, especially the multi-disciplinary concerts. Those cost more, so the funds will help," he said.

Yet, while most arts companies got more funding, theatre company Teater Ekamatra had its funding cut from $180,000 in 2013 to $165,000 this year.

Speaking to The Straits Times, its general manager Shaza Ishak said that the company has been "in a bit of a transition period" and took on some projects with higher risk in the past three years.

"A funding cut affects how we run our company and the quality of our productions. While we're disappointed, we remain positive and clear of our objective. We will cut down on the number and scale of our productions, but we are still excited to roll out our programmes for the year," she said.

A total of 44 companies will receive the Major Grant. This includes companies that applied in the previous two financial years and are still receiving the grant.

There are five first-time recipients for the Seed Grant - visual arts group Objectifs Centre ($150,000), youth theatre company the Young People's Performing Arts Ensemble ($100,000), musical group SAtheCollective, Sing Lit Station and the National Poetry Festival ($50,000 each), respectively.

Poet Joshua Ip told The Straits Times that Sing Lit Station is a collective set up this year as a home for various ongoing literary programmes such as the SingPoWriMo (Singapore Poetry Writing Month) writing challenge, Manuscript Bootcamp, peer-driven writing workshops and the poetry.sg website.

"The Seed Grant will allow us to pay full-time staff to manage the administrative load of running these programmes and help us to grow the Sing Lit community," he said. Sing Lit Station is run by a team of writers, including Ip. It has one full-time staff member.

In a press statement on Tuesday, the council's chief executive Kathy Lai said: "Given the uncertain economic climate ahead, we also hope paying audiences, patrons and corporations continue to support these companies, which represent the best of our nation's creative talents."

The council will also refine the Major Grant's framework to "improve the long-term sustainability of arts groups, diversify their income streams and develop new audiences", she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Arts groups to get $16.2m in funding'. Print Edition | Subscribe