Forum: Award a big boost to S'pore artists

We thank Senior Culture Correspondent Ong Sor Fern for her views (Too little, too late: Is the prize still relevant?, Oct 15).

For 40 years, the Cultural Medallion (CM) has honoured our nation's artists at the pinnacle of their careers.

CM recipients can tap an $80,000 fund to create, present or document their art, and about half of the 126 recipients have done so. They include writer KTM Iqbal and musician Margaret Leng Tan.

Others, such as artist Chua Mia Tee and musician Nona Asiah, are documenting their artistic journeys with the funding.

This will be a valued cultural resource for Singapore.

Beyond this fund, CM recipients continue to be supported with significant government funding, directly through the National Arts Council's (NAC) range of grants or indirectly, through commissions by government-funded cultural institutions and arts companies.

Documentation of our distinctive Singaporean arts is vital, and adds to the discourse about culture.

NAC partners cultural institutions and the arts community in this effort. We also encourage arts groups, in particular major companies and arts leaders, to document their legacies.

While NAC and other government agencies must step up efforts to preserve and transmit our cultural heritage, this effort also requires the active involvement of artists so that source materials are accurately captured and made available.

NAC also agrees that the well-being of artists is important. We are setting up a resource hub for freelance artists which will benefit CM recipients with useful information on support initiatives, job opportunities, as well as health and well-being matters.

We balance continued support for senior artists with the needs of emerging talents.

We continue to promote Singapore's artists in festivals and outreach programmes, including in schools. But this needs to be something everyone, not just NAC, believes in. Indeed all Singaporeans should cherish our home-grown talents, understand the works they create and appreciate how this enriches our lives.

Grace Ng

Director, Education and Development

National Arts Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'Award a big boost to S'pore artists'. Print Edition | Subscribe