Singapore's visual arts reputation needs salvaging

Visitors at Art Stage Singapore at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, on Jan 11, 2017.
Visitors at Art Stage Singapore at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, on Jan 11, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

I refer to the sudden cancellation of the Art Stage fair just days before its planned opening (Please, don't give the arts a pass; Jan 20) and Mr Hua Tye Swee's letter (Govt agencies must manage art scene better; Jan 21).

Art Stage fair founder Lorenzo Rudolf puts the blame for the closure of the fair on "the very difficult market situation in Singapore" and the "unequal competition" from another fair, S.E.A. Focus.

It is an indisputable fact that the number of local and regional collectors here is still very small, despite the long-stated aim and best efforts of the National Arts Council, Singapore Tourism Board and Economic Development Board to invigorate the art market. Over the past two decades, they have given very generous support to the many art fairs here.

One of the most urgent issues facing the art scene here may be "declining attendances and ticket sales", but there is little doubt this issue of floundering art fairs and Singapore's declining art market credibility ranks right up there with it.

A major rethink of art fair support, especially financially, by these three government agencies is in order to salvage Singapore's visual arts reputation.

The new fair in November, Art SG, certainly has its work cut out for it.

It cannot afford to fail.

Lin Fangjie

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore's visual arts reputation needs salvaging'. Print Edition | Subscribe