Arts donors gave nearly $40m in 2020, in-kind donations up 73%

Ms Kris Tan founder of Kris Foundation, is one of 14 individuals who received the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MS KRIS TAN

SINGAPORE - Arts patrons donated nearly $40 million last year, almost matching 2019's $40.5 million, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

In-kind donations to the arts shot up to nearly $17 million last year, a 73 per cent increase compared to 2019.

The generosity of 264 donors was recognised on Friday (Sept 17) at the National Arts Council's (NAC) annual Patron of the Arts Awards, held at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

The highest tier, the Distinguished Patron of the Arts, was given to five organisations, which each donated $1.5 million or more, and 14 individuals, who each donated $100,000 or more.

Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, observed in a virtual speech that cultural philanthropy has evolved to include more than just monetary aid. "Industry expertise, specialist advice and assistance from companies and experts have become key pillars of support."

He cited the examples of StorHub Self Storage, which opened its storage facilities to theatre companies, and Accenture, which collaborated with National Gallery Singapore on an art adoption programme powered by blockchain technology.

"I hope we can continue to explore even more ways to grow the partnership between patrons and the arts community," he said.

He added that Singapore's long-term plans, such as the establishing of a new university of the arts, and infrastructure projects, including the building of the new Esplanade Waterfront Theatre and upgrading of existing arts spaces, remain unchanged.

He acknowledged that the arts has had a tough year. "We are not yet out of the woods by any stretch. But it heartens me that Singapore has largely been able to preserve our arts and culture capabilities even through this extremely difficult time."

He reiterated the Government's support for the arts scene and announced a new partnership between the NAC and Singapore Land Authority to set up a pilot arts sandbox in Kampong Java.

"We are aiming for the space to host multidisciplinary artists and give them an affordable place to focus on their experimental and creative process," he said.

More details of the Kampong Java collaboration will be forthcoming at a later date, said the NAC.

The minister also paid tribute to the NAC, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, for its "single-minded, unstinting drive to make Singapore truly a global city for the arts and make the arts an integral part of Singaporeans' lives".

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