Donors, big and small, honoured at Patron of the Arts awards

Mr Hong Huazheng (left), 29, photographer, receipient of the Arts Supporter Award and Mr Poh Choon Ann, 78, CEO, Poh Tiong Choon Logistics Ltd, receipient of the Patron of the Arts Award. Over 340 heritage champions were recognised for their don
Mr Hong Huazheng (left), 29, photographer, receipient of the Arts Supporter Award and Mr Poh Choon Ann, 78, CEO, Poh Tiong Choon Logistics Ltd, receipient of the Patron of the Arts Award. Over 340 heritage champions were recognised for their donations that have helped shape Singapore’s arts landscape at the annual Patron of the Arts awards on July 17, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

YOU do not need to be a big corporation or have deep pockets to give to the arts - as seen at the annual Patron of the Arts awards tonight July 17.

Over 340 heritage champions were recognised for their donations that have helped shape Singapore’s arts landscape.

Among those was Poh Tiong Choon Logistics, which received the Patron of the Arts Award for the third time, for cash donations to around 30 arts productions, from Chinese opera to the Chinese Choral Festival. Its donation was worth about $385,000.

The company’s chief executive Mr Poh Choon Ann told The Straits Times that he has been supporting arts and cultural activities for over 40 years. Mr Poh, 78, said: “I’m very happy to be receiving the award. It is also very encouraging to see there are many other individuals who are enthusiastic about supporting the arts community. It is important for each of us to give in whichever way we can.”

The total number of recipients is comparable with last year - 344 awardees this year compared to 353 in 2013. Of these, 91 are individuals and 253 organisations. Three out of 10 are first-time donors.

First-time recipient photographer Hong Huazheng was among those who received the Supporter of the Arts award. He and his friends made a $12,000 cash contribution to the Singapore Management University Emerging Artist Award.

Total contributions dipped from $35.3 million in 2013 to $32.2 million this year. The National Arts Council, which gives out the awards, says the dip came from in-kind donations. Cash contribution remained steady - $25 million compared to $25.3 million last year.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, who handed out the awards at an elegant dinner ceremony held at the Suntec City Convention Centre, said he was heartened to see so many first-time donors.

He said: “This demonstrates a growing awareness and understanding of the needs in our arts and culture sector. Your support shows that culture is shared and owned by all of us. I warmly welcome our new donors, and hope that your generous spirit of giving will inspire others to do the same.”

He also spoke of the government’s Cultural Matching Fund that was launched last November, which provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants for private cash contributions to art and heritage charities. 

He said that the first round of applications closed in May with 30 applications totalling more than $10 million. 

Among long-time supporters who were recognised was Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. SPH was honoured with its 22nd Distinguished Patron of the Arts award. 

Ms Ginney Lim, SPH’s General Counsel and Executive Vice-President of Corporate Communications & CSR, and General Manager of the SPH Foundation, said: “This award is a befitting 30th anniversary gift for us. It is a testament of our commitment in supporting the local arts scene as part of our active corporate citizenry. Through the SPH Foundation Arts Fund, we also create opportunities for the less fortunate in our society to appreciate the beauty of the arts.”

Another long-time supporter honoured last night was Hong Leong Foundation, which received its eighth consecutive Distinguished Patron of the Arts award. It has sponsored productions by groups such as The Theatre Practice, The Fingers Players and Toy Factory Productions.

Marina Bay Sands, which also received the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award, has pledged $750,000 to the Public Art Trust to bring art to high traffic areas in the city and the heartland.

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