Art created from the biorhythms of mushrooms is just one of more than 130 art events happening at Singapore Art Week (SAW) which kicked off this weekend. The 10th edition of the annual event has come a long way. The first edition in 2013 was created as a way to build on momentum in the arts scene. With the Art Stage Singapore and Gillman Barracks building buzz for Singapore as an international arts hub for collectors and galleries, SAW was seen then as a way to enhance the ecosystem for economic gains. The arts landscape today is different, no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic which had closed borders and made travel nigh on impossible. This might, on first blush, negate the importance of holding as massive an event such as SAW.
But SAW can, in fact, fulfil other pressing needs in the community. The past two years have accelerated some trends in the arts. The Future of Arts and Culture report last week noted that one key shift for arts and culture is away from the realm of entertainment towards social impact, creating social value and wellness. This shift has been happening in Singapore where community arts is no longer regarded as the poor cousin to serious art-making, and proper attention is being paid to how the arts can contribute substantively to everything from health and well-being to raising social consciousness.