$51.6m donated to arts, 302 donors lauded

Mr Kenneth Kam, chairman of the Kenn Foundation, receiving the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award for individuals - who contribute $100,000 or more in a yearto the arts - from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday.
Mr Kenneth Kam, chairman of the Kenn Foundation, receiving the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award for individuals - who contribute $100,000 or more in a yearto the arts - from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

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 yesterday as the National Arts Council honoured 302 donors at the annual Patron of the Arts Awards ceremony at Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

At the ceremony, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu acknowledged 104 organisations and 198 individuals who gave $37.1 million in cash and $14.5 million in kind to the sector.

In-kind contributions included 50 electronic tablets given by Samsung Asia to the National Gallery Singapore for visitors to access a multimedia guide to exhibits, the Gallery Explorer app. The National Gallery also benefited from Accenture Singapore's help linking digital artwork to its permanent collection.

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.

Mr Kenneth Kam, 51-year-old chairman of the Kenn Foundation, was a first-time recipient of the Distinguished Patron of the Arts award for individuals who contribute $100,000 or more in a year to the arts. He supported the Artist-In-School Scheme, allowing special education schools such as Grace Orchard School and Pathlight School to organise sessions for their students to learn from practising artists.

Referring to Mr Kam's contribution, Ms Fu said in her speech: "Experiences like these go a long way in empowering the less privileged, and support the Government's objective of improving accessibility to the arts for everyone."

A first-time Friend of the Arts recipient was Direct Funeral Services, which helped theatre troupe Pangdemonium stage the musical Fun Home. It is based on the life story of graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, whose father ran a funeral business. The musical deals with dysfunctional families, homosexuality and suicide. Pangdemonium's joint artistic director Tracie Pang said the donation was "a godsend". She added: "It was a production that many potential sponsors we approached were reluctant to touch because of the subject matter."

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."

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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2018, with the headline '$51.6m donated to arts, 302 donors lauded'. Print Edition | Subscribe