Substation's closure

Premises to remain multi-disciplinary arts space

We thank Mr Hua Tye Swee for his letter, "Find a way to keep alive The Substation's and Kuo Pao Kun's vision and legacy" (March 4).

The National Arts Council (NAC) assures all that 45 Armenian Street will remain an inclusive, multi-disciplinary arts space; a safe space for artistic experimentation, and one which supports the work of young practitioners.

NAC agrees it is important to honour the vision of Kuo Pao Kun, and will engage our arts community and stakeholders to envision a meaningful new space.

Together with many in the community, we are disappointed by and regret the announcement from the board of The Substation to close the company permanently. The Substation has previously made significant contributions to Singapore's cultural scene.

NAC had sought to persuade The Substation otherwise with various proposals, and had hoped it will continue its role as an arts incubator.

We invited the board to co-create the vision for the renovated arts centre with us, welcoming its return as a co-tenant. However, we were unable to accede to its request to return as the sole tenant, and generate revenue on this basis.

With more arts organisations and practitioners today, making the space available to others would allow the broader arts community to benefit.

The Substation is a recipient of the Major Company Scheme, and has also been supported through the Covid-19 support schemes, including the Arts and Culture Resilience Package.

NAC had offered The Substation several interim premises and agreed to increase its grant funding to help its transition.

We also offered to work with The Substation to review its artistic and financial strategies towards long-term sustainability.

Over the years, we have increased arts spaces and invested in our cultural practitioners. In close partnership with them, we have sought to make the arts more accessible, do more to pursue excellence, and grow audiences, supporters and patrons.

Additionally, the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) remains open.

It has downsized its operations but remains in the Gillman Barracks.

Closing its current exhibition space is part of its efforts to manage costs and diversify the locations of its exhibitions.

We look forward to the robust and equally rich programming that NTU CCA continues to offer.

NAC will continue to support our arts sector in creating an even more enjoyable and exciting arts and culture scene for our supporters, patrons and public.

Tay Tong Director, Sector Development (Visual Arts) National Arts Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2021, with the headline 'Premises to remain multi-disciplinary arts space'. Subscribe