$3m push for more activities in heritage areas

Cyclists ride along St Andrew's Road in front of the National Gallery during car-free Sunday on March 27, 2016.
Cyclists ride along St Andrew's Road in front of the National Gallery during car-free Sunday on March 27, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Those with an appetite for culture, leisure and entertainment can look forward to more of such activities in the Civic District and Bras Basah-Bugis precinct in the next three years.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in Parliament yesterday, during the debate on her ministry's budget, that $3 million would be set aside for programmes in these spaces.

The aim is to further enliven these arts and heritage-rich neighbourhoods and endear them to people.

This effort complements a $740 million plan announced in last year's Budget to revitalise the Civic District through the refurbishment and opening of key cultural institutions and heritage landmarks. These include the $532 million National Gallery Singapore, which has drawn almost 700,000 visitors since it opened last November in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings.

The commemorative Jubilee Walk was also launched last year under the plan. The 8km-long heritage trail wraps around landmarks in the Civic District, including the Asian Civilisations Museum, which opened two new wings last November as part of its $25 million revamp.

Also, events such as Car-Free Sunday have been launched in February in the Central Business District and Civic District, to encourage people to gather and mingle in these areas.

Ms Fu said the push to offer "outdoor and indoor experiences across sports, culture, food and entertainment" in the Civic District and Bras Basah-Bugis precinct will be a collaborative effort. The National Arts Council and National Heritage Board will "work with different stakeholders in the community, including arts and heritage groups", she said.

This partnership with the local community and arts and heritage groups is essential for such efforts to take off, stressed Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng.

He cited a block party held in Armenian Street last month as an example of such collaboration. The Peranakan Museum and Singapore Management University had worked with cultural groups such as Dance Ensemble Singapore, the Peranakan community and the area's shops to put on performances centred on Peranakan culture and poetry readings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline '$3m push for more activities in heritage areas'. Print Edition | Subscribe