Arts space The Substation to mark 25th anniversary with festival in September

 The Substation in Armenian Street.
The Substation in Armenian Street.PHOTO: THE SUBSTATION

SINGAPORE - The Substation, the indie arts space first carved out from a disused electric substation in 1990, will mark its 25th anniversary here with a month-long celebration of arts events that kicks off in end August.

Its annual Septfest will fete The Substation's history though a series of music events, film screenings, exhibitions, a conference and a special nocturnal audio tour.

There will be newly commissioned works from practitioners formerly supported by The Substation's programmes, like visual artist Robert Zhao and performance artist Daniel Kok. Septfest will also screen short regional films as part of the Asian Film Symposium.

The night-time tour, titled Hearing Things: Ghosts Of The Substation, will for the first time grant visitors unprecedented full access to the building on Armenian Street, including restricted areas such as the basement.

Over at the Central Library, an archival exhibition of The Substation will examine its past, present and future, and is accompanied by a similarly-themed arts conference.

This recalls the vision originally set out by its founder, the late theatre giant Kuo Pao Kun, who envisioned it as a home for the arts, where practitioners from both the margins and the mainstream could gather to debate and create.

The arts centre's most recent artistic director, Noor Effendy Ibrahim, stepped down in January. Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesperson from The Substation said that recruitment for its next artistic director "has taken longer than anticipated", and declined to say when the new candidate would be announced.

At the upcoming Septfest, the arts centre will also launch an anniversary book of photo and essay contributions from artists, writers, curators and managers who have strong links to The Substation, edited by its former artistic co-director Audrey Wong.

These include submissions from practitioners like Alvin Tan, artistic director of theatre company The Necessary Stage. Its 1990 play about education, Those Who Can't, Teach, by playwright Haresh Sharma, was the first production to grace The Substation's stage.

Echoing a sentiment in his essay, Tan says: "There was a lot of constant networking at The Substation. But later on, as Armenian Street gentrified, the National Library was demolished and some eateries closed down, that spontaneous networking was dismantled."

Book It

What: Septfest 2015

When: Aug 28 to Sept 27

Admission: Various ticketed events, for more information, go to