$51.6 million donated to arts, culture last year

The National Gallery Singapore was given a loan of electronic tablets by Samsung Asia and received Accenture Singapore's help with strategic data assessment, app development and digital marketing.
The National Gallery Singapore was given a loan of electronic tablets by Samsung Asia and received Accenture Singapore's help with strategic data assessment, app development and digital marketing.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Donations to Singapore's arts and cultural scene totalled $51.6 million last year, dropping for the second year running. There were more than 80 new donors although the total number of donors remains unchanged.

The figures were revealed today (July 4) as the National Arts Council honoured 302 donors at the annual Patron of the Arts Awards ceremony at Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu acknowledged 104 organisations and 198 individuals at the awards ceremony. These gave $37.1 million in cash and $14.5 million in kind to the arts and cultural sector.

In-kind contributions included electronic tablets loaned to the National Gallery Singapore by Samsung Asia, to access its multimedia guide, the Gallery Explorer app. The National Gallery also benefited from Accenture Singapore's help with strategic data assessment, app development and digital marketing.

Samsung Asia received the Friend of the Arts award for corporate donors giving $50,000 to $299,999 in a year. The Patron of the Arts award was given to Singapore Press Holdings and 20 other corporations for giving between $300,000 and just below $1.5 million. And Accenture Singapore was one of seven corporate donors to receive the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award for corporate donors who give $1.5 million or more.

Mrs Rosa Daniel, the arts council's chief executive officer, said in a statement: "Private arts patronage plays an important role in enriching lives and connecting communities, adding immense value to our society. Every donation is much appreciated as it adds towards realising a world filled with the arts."

Total donations have dropped 20 per cent from the $64.8 million given in cash and kind in 2016. That in turn was about half the $136.1 million received in 2015.

Mr Paul Tan, the arts council's deputy CEO, said in a statement that giving in the past two years has dropped because of major donations in Singapore's Jubilee Year in 2015 for infrastructure projects such as the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

He added: "What is perhaps more important is sustaining the level of giving to arts organisations year on year, so that we continue to create a vibrant arts scene. As such, we are pleased to see an increased number of Friends of the Arts this year."

He also expressed hope that donors would respond to the recent $150-million top-up to the Cultural Matching Fund. This fund established by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth matches private donations to registered arts and heritage charities dollar-for-dollar. Infrastructure projects in the pipeline that would need financial support include the new Waterfront Theatre at the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay and the revamp of the Singapore Art Museum.