Pioneer artists in Singapore will get financial assistance from a new non-governmental organisation, which also aims to foster cultural fusion.
The Puan Noor Aishah Intercultural Institute (PNAICI), named after its patron, the wife of Singapore's first president Yusof Ishak, was officially launched on Wednesday.
It plans to run events such as exhibitions, talks and seminars. Its 16 management committee members range from cultural practitioners to former politicians.
It will extend financial support to some older artists, such as those in ill health.
It has an initial fund-raising target of $50,000 to $100,000, which will come from donations.
The institute's president, former MP Wan Hussin Zoohri, says: "For a long time, as they fade away, nobody seems to recognise or remember them. But these are people who laid the foundation for our good cultural heritage."
Others on the institute's committee include former MP and Berita Harian editor Yatiman Yusof; and Mr Lee Chiong Giam, former chief executive director of the People's Association.
PNAICI, which is looking for a permanent space, also aims to raise awareness of cultural heritage, engage with the cultural bodies of various ethnic groups, and preserve works through research and documentation.
"Since independence, our cultural heritage has been (ethnicity)-based," Mr Wan Hussin, 83, told the media at the launch in Tanjong Katong Complex.
"We thought that after almost 60 years of independence, we should be more proactive in getting the various cultures to meet, talk and have more engagement with each other, so (our culture) doesn't develop separately or become compartmentalised.
"The first stage is to enhance intercultural appreciation. Then you can move on to intercultural integration and ultimately, in the long term, intercultural fusion. This will take a very long time, but if we don't start now, we will continue to develop separately, as we have done in the last several decades."
Such fusion, he adds, could involve a creative mingling of elements of different cultures - arriving at something that is "uniquely Singaporean in its holistic form".
"When a Malay person sings, he might be accompanied by a Chinese orchestra. Similarly, in an Indian dance, you might have a Chinese or Malay person performing in that dance, so we break that racial compartmentalisation."
Aside from intercultural events, the institute plans to launch publications such as a book on Cultural Medallion recipients, as well as a collection of heritage fashion.
• Go to pnaici.com for information on how to donate.