PM Lee: Why arts and culture are an integral part of Singapore

PM Lee Hsien Loong views Vincent Leow's (left) work "Feet Remembered" during LASALLE College of the Arts' 30 year anniversary celebration at LASALLE College, Nov 11, 2014. The arts and culture are an integral part of Singapore which the country
PM Lee Hsien Loong views Vincent Leow's (left) work "Feet Remembered" during LASALLE College of the Arts' 30 year anniversary celebration at LASALLE College, Nov 11, 2014. The arts and culture are an integral part of Singapore which the country must continue to nurture because "Man does not live by bread alone'', said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

SINGAPORE - THE arts and culture are an integral part of Singapore which the country must continue to nurture because "Man does not live by bread alone'', said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.

Arts institutions also play a key role in the cultural shift taking place in Singapore - to define success more broadly - while arming students with skills relevant to the workplace, he said.

"Creating jobs, upgrading workers, making Singapore a more attractive place to work - these are all important things in life. You have to put bread on the table," he said at an event marking the 30th anniversary of Lasalle College of the Arts.

"But 'Man does not live by bread alone'. We do wish for the finer things in life, to appreciate beauty and love, and something uplifting for the spirit.

"Our nation would not be complete without an appreciation of arts and culture, and without Singaporeans who create artistic and cultural works," he told the audience of students and teachers.

In this, Lasalle has contributed significantly, Mr Lee noted as he looked back on its history and achievements that included producing six Cultural Medallion recipients and 23 Young Artist Awards winners.

The school began in 1984 in the belief that Singapore, despite being so focused on science and technology, needed art, Mr Lee said.

Now, its 30-year milestone comes on the cusp of Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence next year, and amid a "cultural and mindset shift".

This shift is the emphasis on building many peaks of excellence in different areas to create multiple pathways to success.

More recently, it includes developing workers' skills that employers want.

The SkillsFuture Council fronting this push is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and met for the first time on Wednesday.

Arts institutions are part of this story, said the Prime Minister, as they emphasise a deep mastery of skills and work with employers.

Lasalle, for instance, brings in leading professionals from major companies such as Lucasfilm and Ubisoft to teach its students.

""I encourage Lasalle as well as other similar institutions like the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts to continue to make connections between knowledge and real-world application, and be part of the vanguard for the mindset change we are embarking on," said Mr Lee.