Drama group hopes to bring theatre to heartlands

Local theatre company Drama Box could find itself centre stage in the heartlands if a proposed Government fund is rolled out soon.

The group has a vision to put on free shows across the country in four inflatable theatres that can be set up in no time right on their audience members' doorsteps.

Ms Koh Hui Ling, 34, the associate artistic director of Drama Box, says: "We've been doing community theatre for the past 13 to 14 years, and we hope to provide a more iconic space for the community to come together to debate and dialogue through the arts."

But those ambitious plans need cash, lots of it.

Drama Box will need $400,000 by the end of this year to build the lightweight and easily transportable structures, the largest of which will be the size of a basketball court and four storeys high.

They are named "GoLi" after the popular marbles game and are projected to have a life span of about eight to 10 years.

The group has raised $60,000 from individuals and corporate sponsors, not enough to build even one theatre.

That is where the $200 million Cultural Donation Matching Fund announced in last year’s Budget could play a starring role.

Budget 2013 had mentioned plans to make significant investments to nurture arts and sports, which play a growing role in enriching life here.

The fund involves the Government matching private donations to arts and heritage groups, museums and institutions dollar-for-dollar.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth has been consulting donors and arts groups to see how best to implement the scheme.

So if the fund is started, Drama Box will see its hard-earned $60,000 suddenly turn into $120,000 – enough to complete one theatre and start work on another.

They hope to debut the first theatre in time for a performance at the Bukit Ho Swee housing estate in July.

The goal is to have all four theatres ready for the group's inaugural Community Theatre Festival in 2015, which will showcase community theatre productions from both Singapore and abroad.

Ms Koh adds: "We hope to see the implementation of the fund this year. We also hope the fund will encourage other individual and corporate donors to come on board and support the arts."

corriet@sph.com.sg