Museums and heritage institutions in Singapore will be audited this year to ensure that they are accessible to elderly people and users with disabilities, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in Parliament yesterday.
Museums such as Changi Chapel and Museum, Reflections at Bukit Chandu, Peranakan Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum are already undergoing revamps that will equip them with wheelchair-friendly access, such as wider passageways and lifts, as well as other amenities, such as more nursing rooms and toilets for people with disabilities.
Besides ensuring physical access, Ms Fu said that as part of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's (MCCY) digitalisation plan, two initiatives will be rolled out to improve audience engagement with the arts and culture.
One is the Culture Concierge - a one-stop platform for audiences to find out more about arts and cultural events happening around Singapore. It will offer keyword search options such as "weekend" activities and "family-friendly" activities, a chatbot that will give recommendations, and integration with ticketing services to offer a seamless user experience.
The other digital initiative is the Cultural Resource Ontology, which will build on the current roots.sg website.
The portal already contains information on more than 120,000 cultural treasures and historical artefacts from the national collection, as well as information about heritage trails and national monuments. The Cultural Resource Ontology will be a one-stop site, which those who are interested in Singapore's cultural heritage can visit for more information.
The Government will also support artist welfare and career development with ongoing funding support and programmes.
Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, stressed the importance of helping arts practitioners become more self-sufficient.
To that end, the National Arts Council (NAC) will launch an online resource hub in the second half of this year for freelancers. The site will collate information about everything from jobs and projects to databases and service providers.
Mr Baey added that the MCCY, the NAC and the National Heritage Board are taking part in the contribute-as-you-earn pilot project, which allows freelancers to pay smaller contributions to Medisave.
The NAC will also continue to support capability development for artists by developing more residencies and opportunities for artists both here and overseas.
Mr Baey said that over the past five years, the MCCY has supported more than 1,000 artists and arts groups on more than 300 international platforms.
Ms Fu noted that Singapore artists have been flying the flag high overseas.
Multidisciplinary artist Song-Ming Ang and curator Michelle Ho will be representing the Republic this year in its ninth appearance at the Venice Biennale, while the Singapore Chinese Orchestra will be touring Germany and Italy in September.
Ms Fu said: "We hope that showcasing our culture and heritage internationally will help people around the world learn more about Singapore."
Clarification note: The National Heritage Board would like to clarify that the Cultural Resource Ontology is a back-end system that aims to improve on the structure of cultural resource data to make such resources more accessible. It will provide users with an enhanced search capability across the different websites of culture sector partners (for example, NHB’s Roots.sg), as well as search engines like Google. This means that users will be able to search and discover Singapore’s rich cultural and heritage content through a more intuitive, efficient and meaningful categorisation of recommended resources.