SG50 windfall for the arts

330 patrons who donated record $136m honoured at NAC event

A record $136.1 million was donated by 330 corporate and individual patrons to the arts last year, as Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee.

The donors were recognised last night at the National Arts Council's annual Patron of the Arts Awards, which is in its 33rd edition.

The number of patrons is almost 50 per cent higher than the 226 patrons recognised in 2014, who contributed a total of $53.8 million.

The event was held at Shangri- La Hotel and the awards were presented by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

The council attributes last year's increased arts patronage to the marking of a milestone year and the opening of two major arts institutions - the National Gallery Singapore and the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

The awards are divided into different tiers for individuals and corporations. For example, an individual is honoured as a Friend of the Arts if he gave $10,000 to $49,999 in a year, and an organisation is recognised as a Distinguished Patron of the Arts for donations of $1.5 million and above.

First-time recipients of the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award Joseph and Emma Cherian. They contributed to the National Gallery by adopting Malaysian artist Chia Yu Chian's 1960 oil painting of a village scene.
First-time recipients of the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award Joseph and Emma Cherian. They contributed to the National Gallery by adopting Malaysian artist Chia Yu Chian's 1960 oil painting of a village scene. PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Corporations that received the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award include the United Overseas Bank, DBS Bank, Keppel Corporation, Singtel and Far East Organization - all major donors to the National Gallery.

Other organisations that were honoured include Singapore Press Holdings and the Singapore Leong Khay Huay Kuan.

Among the individuals recognised last night were Mr Joseph Cherian and his wife, Emma.

They are first-time recipients of the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award for individuals who give $100,000 and more in a year.

They contributed to the National Gallery by adopting Malaysian artist Chia Yu Chian's 1960 oil painting of a village scene.

Mrs Cherian, the managing director of a family office, said: "As residents of Singapore, we were proud to see the launch of this new visual arts institution and wished to be a part of it."

Ms Fu, who thanked the patrons in her speech, said the Government's bid to encourage public giving to the arts through the Cultural Matching Fund launched in 2013 has received "overwhelming" response with a "steady increase in applications" for more than $140 million from over 80 arts and heritage groups.

She said: "The close partnership between the public and private sectors provides a more diverse and sustainable source of funding, allowing arts organisations to chart their long-term development and provide better offerings for the audience."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2016, with the headline 'SG50 windfall for the arts'. Print Edition | Subscribe