The long-awaited 11-storey China Cultural Centre in Queen Street has been completed and a writers' forum featuring five reputed Chinese novelists tonight will kick-start its series of pre-launch programmes.
Authors including Tie Ning, who is president of the China Writers' Association, and Yu Hua, whose 1993 novel To Live was made into a movie by director Zhang Yimou, will be sharing their writing experiences at the centre's 240-seat theatre.
They will also meet about 100 local Chinese-language writers at the event held by the new centre and the Singapore Writers' Association.
The centre is part of efforts by China and Singapore to foster exchanges in the arts and culture. On Nov 15, 2010, then Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong had officiated at the centre's ground-breaking ceremony at the site of the former People's Association clubhouse.
DISTINCTIVE CHINESE CULTURES
There is no duplication because we will be promoting our uniquely Singapore Chinese culture while theirs will be all about those from the mainland.
MR CHOO THIAM SIEW, the SCCC chief executive, on the China Cultural Centre
Designed by prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker, the centre cost more than 200 million yuan (S$44 million) and took over two years to build, from January 2013 to April this year. Its official opening later this year is expected to be hosted by both countries' top leaders.
There are more than 20 similar centres all over the world and China aims to have at least 50 by 2020 to promote its culture and further bolster its soft power abroad.
"We will bring in top Chinese performers, conduct courses on Chinese history and culture as well as master classes by our top Chinese musicians and artists to benefit students here," Chinese Cultural Counsellor Xiao Jianghua told The Straits Times.
Meanwhile, the new centre here will be holding a month-long exhibition of ethnic minority costumes from Guangxi province at its 754 sq m Level 2 exhibition hall from Sept 12, said Ms Ma Hongying, head of the centre's preparatory team.
"We are also working with National Gallery Singapore to hold a joint art exhibition of 50 paintings by artists from both countries to mark the centre's opening and Singapore's Golden Jubilee later this year," she said.
The centre also has a library on level 6, which will be open to the public after the arrival of its collection of 40,000 books, mainly on Chinese history, culture and current affairs with a limited number in English. Other facilities include classrooms and a multi-purpose hall suitable for music and dance classes.
The centre's opening is well ahead of that of the $110-million Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) in Shenton Way, which the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations is coming up with by the end of next year.
SCCC chief executive Choo Thiam Siew said: "There is no duplication because we will be promoting our uniquely Singapore Chinese culture while theirs will be all about those from the mainland."
An earlier version of this article mentioned that the joint exhibition would be held with the National Heritage Board, but it will actually be held with the National Gallery Singapore. We are sorry for the error.