S'pore art community able to take on world stage on its own

Pink Men Vs Pink Buddha by Manit Sriwanichpoom at the eighth edition of Art Stage Singapore held at Sands Expo And Convention Centre. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

I refer to the letters on the sudden cancellation of Art Stage Singapore and would like to offer a different view of the events (Learn lessons from Art Stage fair cancellation, by Mr Jeffrey Say Seck Leong; and Singapore's visual arts reputation needs salvaging, by Mr Lin Fangjie; both published on Jan 28).

The cancellation of the fair was a shock to the art community and undoubtedly left many artists and gallerists in a difficult situation.

However, times of adversity often bring out the best in people, and this situation was no different.

We saw independent entities such as Plural Art Mag setting up a Facebook group which attracted an outpouring of support and offers of exhibition spaces from both the art community and general members of the public. There were others.

The Government and non-profit entity Art Outreach swooped in and worked tirelessly to set up mini-fair The ARTery at Marina Bay Sands, which helped a number of stranded galleries on short notice.

Everyone pitched in to help, and worked together to achieve the common goal of helping to repair any resultant damage to Singapore's reputation as an arts hub.

Commercial art fairs will come and go, but the groundswell of support and fellow feeling that this incident precipitated is something that will surely stand the test of time.

In more utilitarian terms, this combination of efficient community and government-led action is something of a national badge of pride.

Finally and more importantly, we should not forget that the Singapore arts scene comprises more than just a commercial art fair driven by sales and purchases.

It is made up of an entire art community, as was evidenced by the diverse programming during Singapore Art Week. It featured site-specific installations, institutional shows, exhibitions by independent art spaces and much more - there was something appealing for every art lover.

Rather than looking for new players to step into the void left by Art Stage and put us back on the regional or global arts map, I would contend that the Singapore art community has plenty of mettle to take on the world stage on its own terms.

Jasdeep Sandhu

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