Donations to the arts down but more individuals recognised for contributions

Minister Grace Fu speaking at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards on July 12, 2017.
Minister Grace Fu speaking at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards on July 12, 2017. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
An Indian dance performance titled "A King's Passion" on stage at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards by dancers from Apsaras Arts on July 12, 2017.
An Indian dance performance titled "A King's Passion" on stage at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards by dancers from Apsaras Arts on July 12, 2017.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Chan Kok Hua (left), a Patron of the Arts, with Terence Ho Wee San, executive director at Singapore Chinese Orchestra.
Chan Kok Hua (left), a Patron of the Arts, with Terence Ho Wee San, executive director at Singapore Chinese Orchestra.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
An Indian dance performance titled "A King's Passion" on stage at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards by dancers from Apsaras Arts on July 12, 2017.
An Indian dance performance titled "A King's Passion" on stage at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards by dancers from Apsaras Arts on July 12, 2017.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Minister Grace Fu speaking at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards on July 12, 2017.
Minister Grace Fu speaking at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards on July 12, 2017. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Singapore's arts scene received $64.7 million in donations of cash and kind last year, about half the $136.1 million received in 2015.

While corporates gave almost two-thirds less, individual contributions - which totalled $19.4 million - was double that of 2015.

In-kind contributions, which included artwork loans and donations for the first time last year, also peaked in 2016 at $20.6 million.

A total of 302 individuals and corporates were honoured this evening at the 34th Patron of the Arts Awards, organised by the National Arts Council (NAC).

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

The awards ceremony, held at the Conrad Centennial, was officiated by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu.

Ms Fu acknowledged the various forms of support given by patrons, such as the United Overseas Bank helping to fund visual arts programmes run by non-profit arts organisation The Red Pencil, which specialises in art therapy. 

"To nurture the next generation of artistic talent and arts supporters, your contributions towards arts education are invaluable," said Ms Fu.

She also announced that the NAC will be refreshing its mission and vision to show its "renewed commitment to grow the arts and cultural sector".

And to encourage cultural philanthropy, she reiterated the MCCY's commitment to inject $150 million into the Cultural Matching Fund.

The fund, set up by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, provides a matching grant for private cash donations to arts and heritage groups.

"Perhaps, it is precisely in these difficult times, that we need the arts to uplift our spirits and enrich our lives," she said.

The NAC said in a media release that contributions to the arts in 2016 were "expectedly lower" due to the "exceptional record of contributions" in 2015.

This, it said, was due to Singapore's Jubilee Year celebrations and increased awareness of the Cultural Matching Fund in 2015.

The Patron of the Arts Awards was introduced in 1983 to recognise corporates and individuals who give significantly to the arts in Singapore.

There are three tiers of awards given out - Friend of the Arts, Patron of the Arts and Distinguished Patron of the Arts.

The Distinguished Patron of the Arts Award is given to corporates that give $1.5 million and above, and individuals who give $100,000 and above.

There were 26 Distinguished Patrons in 2016, including the Singapore Press Holdings.

Art collector Chan Kok Hua, 61, received a Patron of the Arts award for his contributions to local arts groups Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) and Nam Hwa Opera.

The award is given out to individuals who give between $50,000 and under $100,000.

"When we talk about giving to charity, it's not just about giving money to hospitals and seniors' homes. It can also be to orchestras and other arts groups, because art is a very important part of society," he said.

Mr Terence Ho, 47, the executive director of the SCO, acknowledged Ms Fu's comments about the need for the arts in an "economically challenging climate".

He said: "During a difficult time, the arts become more important to boost the morale of the people. We don't cut concerts, we want to perform more. With the support of our partners and donors, we can do more."