Parliament: NAC had no inkling Art Stage Singapore fair would be cancelled, says Grace Fu

Non-profit group Arts Outreach contacted 36 galleries hit by Art Stage Singapore's cancellation, and 14 took part in the ARTery (above), a pop-up event at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
Non-profit group Arts Outreach contacted 36 galleries hit by Art Stage Singapore's cancellation, and 14 took part in the ARTery (above), a pop-up event at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.ST PHOTO: SAHIBA CHAWDHARY

The National Arts Council (NAC) "had no inkling" that contemporary art fair Art Stage Singapore would abruptly cancel its latest edition, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said yesterday.

She said her ministry and NAC were "particularly disappointed" with the cancellation, as there was no indication that Art Stage had planned to do so on the occasions when it, together with the authorities, presented Singapore Art Week to the community and met the media.

Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera had asked about the cancellation, which was announced just eight days before the event and left participating art galleries stranded.

The contemporary art fair was the showpiece event of the annual public arts festival, Singapore Art Week.

Ms Fu added that Art Stage Singapore is a commercial organisation, and as the NAC did not have a direct financial interest in the show, "we do not have sight of its financial numbers".

On whether the Government would consider an early warning system where commercial organisers would have to provide updates on their finances, Ms Fu said: "Obviously, like all commercial entities, financial situations are not something that you will openly display or openly demonstrate to the public.

"It will not be appropriate for us to be demanding financial, commercial organisations to show us their financial situation."

 
 
 
 

Art Stage Singapore, the company behind the fair, has been placed under provisional liquidation, said restructuring consultancy Acres Advisory on Tuesday.

The fair was backed by the NAC, Economic Development Board and Singapore Tourism Board. Its director Lorenzo Rudolf, a Swiss national, was credited with having turned the Swiss art fair Art Basel into a vibrant, internationally renowned fair in the 1990s.

While the cancellation came as a shock, Ms Fu noted that the art community's reaction proved the scene's resilience.

With the NAC's support, non-profit group Arts Outreach contacted 36 galleries affected by the cancellation. Fourteen later took part in the ARTery, a pop-up event at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Ms Fu said: "The art marketplace is not one where the regulator itself can decide its viability and its growth... We really call on the art community to come in and support Singapore Art Week and any subsequent events that we may have in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'NAC had no inkling art fair would be cancelled: Grace Fu'. Print Edition | Subscribe