I agree with Professor Tommy Koh in listing cultural literacy as one of the important tests of a First World people (Five tests of a truly First World people, Dec 21).
It has been an encouraging trend in the past decade that younger Singaporeans are beginning to show an interest in arts and cultural literacy, supported by the National Arts Council through various initiatives and arts programmes. These have been integrated into family activities which the young and the old can engage in together during weekends and school holidays.
This has resulted not only in family bonding, but also in introducing arts genres to children through innovative approaches from the various arts organisations.
Singapore in recent years has seen a marked improvement in arts literacy. One of the notable initiatives is the national writing competition in Singapore's four official languages - English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Known as the Golden Point Award, this platform has greatly promoted many talented writers in Singapore since 1993.
The biennial National Piano and Violin Competition, the National Chinese Music Competition and the National Indian Music Competition have uncovered many local talented musicians who have gone on to perform with Singapore's professional orchestras such as the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.
Through the years, many potential musicians have also chosen to further their education and career in local tertiary institutions such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts School of Music and the National University of Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
The Nanyang Technological University Confucius Institute plays a pivotal role in instilling the importance of Chinese language and culture in Singapore with programmes for children and adults as well as cultural events including workshops and seminars for students and working executives.
Singapore has seen a steady growth in the appreciation of arts and cultural literacy through the years and will in no time be recognised as an international arena of arts and culture.
Dawn Chen Wenhui