Parliament: More than 60 projects supported by Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts amid Covid-19

One project to benefit from the grant was an online concert by the Jazz Association (Singapore). PHOTO: JAZZ ASSOCIATION (SINGAPORE)

SINGAPORE - A digital presentation grant for the arts in the time of Covid-19 has supported more than 60 projects so far, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng told Parliament on Tuesday (May 26).

The Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts, which encourages artists and arts groups to go digital, is supported by the Digitalisation Fund - part of the Government's $55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) to help the sector tide through the pandemic.

Successful applicants receive up to $20,000 for each project.

"Since applications opened on April 14, 62 applications have been supported.

"Overall, the Digitalisation Fund aims to generate over 1,000 opportunities for cultural and related practitioners, including in the post-circuit breaker period," Mr Baey said.

"The allocation for each area of support under the ACRP will depend on the evolving national situation, as well as the needs and demands of the arts and culture community."

He was responding to questions by Nominated MP Terence Ho, who had asked for various updates on the Government's support for artists amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

One project to benefit from the grant was an online concert by the Jazz Association (Singapore) last month.

It aired on Facebook and YouTube with swinging renditions of classics such as Singapura and jazz standard I Can't Get Started.

Aside from covering the grant, the Digitalisation Fund also aims to make museums' exhibitions and collections accessible on virtual platforms, and support the digital presentation of events such as the Singapore Writers Festival and Singapore Art Week.

It is supporting at least eight commissions as part of the National Arts Council's #SGCultureAnywhere campaign, with partners such as Lianhe Zaobao, Hear65 and VIDDSEE.

Earlier this year, the Government announced that it would pump $55 million into the arts and culture sector to save jobs and encourage groups to improve their skills and go digital.

This was on top of the $1.6 million that had been set aside earlier to help arts groups improve skills and ease expenses amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The raft of measures also defray the cost of rent, wages and training for arts groups.

An enhanced Capability Development Scheme for the Arts, which offers training grants, has supported more than 160 programmes so far, Mr Baey said on Tuesday.

"I am heartened that many of our experienced artists and cultural practitioners, such as Maestro Yeh Tsung, Chong Tze Chien and Checkpoint Theatre, have stepped forward to share their experience through virtual masterclasses and online training," he added.

The arts sector has been hard hit by social distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The circuit breaker came into force on April 7 and was meant to last till May 4. It was extended by a month, till June 1, after which measures will be eased in three phases.

Art lovers will have to wait until at least July 1 for their next fix.

The National Arts Council said in an advisory last week that for Phase 1, which is expected to last at least four weeks: "All arts facilities and venues, including all indoor and outdoor performance venues (for example, theatres, concert halls, blackboxes), museums and art galleries shall remain closed."

Phase 2, it added, "will see the progressive resumption of more activities, including for arts and culture companies and practitioners, in small groups".

In Parliament on Tuesday, MP Louis Ng also asked if the NAC is reaching out to buskers, a group that has been "heavily affected" by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Baey said: "As part of our youth outreach initiative, through *Scape, we have provided an online platform for buskers to perform and reach online viewers."

He added that this online platform has enabled them to perform to a wider community, and "hopefully these will become their fans and supporters in the post Covid-19 period".

"We continue to look out for the needs of the various members of the arts community, including buskers, (to) see how we can help them."

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