Poet Paul Tan appointed NAC deputy CEO, Yvonne Tham moves to Esplanade

Poet Paul Tan (left) will be taking the post of deputy chief executive at the National Arts Council from Ms Yvonne Tham (right), who has been appointed the assistant CEO of the Esplanade arts centre. -- FILE PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR/NATIONAL A
Poet Paul Tan (left) will be taking the post of deputy chief executive at the National Arts Council from Ms Yvonne Tham (right), who has been appointed the assistant CEO of the Esplanade arts centre. -- FILE PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR/NATIONAL ARTS COUNCIL

Some key changes are afoot in the Singapore arts world. The National Arts Council's deputy chief executive Yvonne Tham has been appointed assistant chief executive of the Esplanade arts centre.

Taking her position at the arts council is poet and director of the Singapore Writers Festival, Paul Tan, also currently director of visual arts at the council.

In a statement to The Straits Times Life!, Ms Kathy Lai, chief executive of the council, said Ms Tham's move to the Esplanade is part of "a natural career progression", and that she will "continue to contribute and shape the arts and cultural sector in a more direct role".

Ms Tham starts her new position on June 16. Over at the arts council, Mr Tan starts his new job on June 1.

On his appointment, Ms Lai said: "Paul has the leadership and drive to chart clear industry development plans, and to take them to fruition."

Both Ms Tham and Mr Tan have been on Life!'s annual power list and are seen as influential policy makers in the arts scene.

Ms Tham knows what it takes to shape cultural policy and make weighty funding decisions. The Cambridge University graduate has a bachelor's in English and a master's in American literature. She also has a master's in art business from the reputable Sotheby's Institute of Art in London, and worked at the former Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts for nearly eight years. There, she was part of the team that oversaw the setting up of the School of the Arts. She joined the council in December 2009 - the same year as its previous CEO Benson Puah - and shouldered the responsibility of leading it in 2012 while he was battling lymphoma.

Mr Tan has established himself for his contribution to the literary arts, notably in sustaining the quality of the Singapore Writers Festival and attracting more paying readers to the once-free event. A published poet who won a commendation in the 1993 Singapore Literature Prize and a merit award four years later, he has overseen both the literary and visual arts at the council.

deepikas@sph.com.sg

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