Some arts groups to get funding cuts this year

Noise Singapore 2014 Festival Exhibition is an initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC) to promote artistic expression among the young.
Noise Singapore 2014 Festival Exhibition is an initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC) to promote artistic expression among the young. PHOTO: NOISE SINGAPORE 2015

The National Arts Council (NAC) has prioritised traditional arts companies and groups in the earlier stages of growth in its 2017 funding cycle, announced on March 31, while cutting funding for some groups.

A total of $16.34 million has been committed by the NAC for both the Major Company and Seed Grant schemes this year. This is up from the $16.2 million awarded last year.

However, some groups would experience a drop in funding of less than 10 per cent, according to the NAC, "in light of budget reduction across the government and the growth in the number of deserving recipients over the years".

The arts council did not name the companies whose funding was cut, but theatre company The Finger Players confirmed its funding has dropped by about 10 per cent this year.

Company director Chong Tze Chien, 41, said: "Most of the arts groups were expecting this. Because of the economic climate right now we feel it's inevitable. We feel heartened that we are still get funding but it doesn't make our job easier."

A total of 25 arts organisations will receive funding in this cycle.

After a review in 2016, the Major Company Scheme was fine tuned to include two new funding tracks - Bridging and Intermediary - in addition to the Artmaking track.

The NAC said this would "encourage groups to be more focused in their artistic endeavours to reach new audiences, professionalise the sector and better streamline their capabilities".

"Artmaking, or the creation and presentation of high quality art, remains one of the Council's priorities and receives the bulk of Major Company funding," said the NAC in its release.

Meanwhile, the Bridging track focuses on the creation of programmes that promote arts accessibility, develop new audiences and build appreciation of the arts, while the Intermediary track would support the development of artists and the sector through advocacy, capability development or research.

Some groups under the the Major Company Scheme for the first time, include traditional Malay arts performing company Sri Warisan and Chinese-language theatre company Arts Theatre of Singapore which reaches out to young audiences. These are the two new recipients this year.

The Major Company Scheme is given out by NAC to support the professional and artistic development of registered arts organistions in Singapore through a 3-year grant, while the Seed Grant focuses on helping emerging organisations start programmes and operations. The Seed Grant has five new recipients this year.

Mrs Rosa Daniel, NAC's chief executive officer said: "We are delighted to recognise a wide diversity in the arts groups that have been admitted in the Major Company and Seed Grant schemes this year. While continuing to uphold quality in the arts, NAC's revised framework also focuses on cultivating and growing audiences, as well as the longer-term development of our arts practitioners."

additional reporting by Akshita Nanda