Give free rein to art and culture in civic spaces

In many countries, unauthorised works of art are often not removed and their artists remain unpunished.

This is not the case in Singapore, where strict regulations are strongly and promptly enforced.

Yet this approach appears to dampen the local arts scene.

Graffiti adds to the vibrancy of neighbourhoods in other cities while government-initiated art pieces in Singapore may go unappreciated. One possible solution that Singapore can adopt is creative placemaking - the process of reimagining and reinventing public spaces using art and culture as the linchpin in building vibrant urban communities.

This is possible only if community building is done from the ground up. Citizens must actively contribute and they can do so freely only without government intervention. As American author and urbanist Jane Jacobs noted: "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because and only when they are created by everybody."

I would love to see void decks painted by residents, community-initiated gardens freely grown in our green spaces and spontaneous street busking. These would culminate in a district that will be the pulsing heart of a reinvigorated city.

It is my hope that the Government will allow art to take place freely in civic spaces in Singapore.

Nicholas Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'Give free rein to art and culture in civic spaces'. Subscribe