First-time heritage champions were honoured alongside long- time donors last night at the National Heritage Board's (NHB) annual Patron of Heritage awards, which marked its 10th anniversary.
The NHB received $16 million worth of donations and loans for museums and the heritage sector last year. This was nearly double the amount in 2014, when total donations amounted to over $8.5 million.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, gave out the awards at an elegant ceremony held at the National Museum of Singapore. Of the 104 recipients, 59 were first-time award recipients.
In her speech, she pointed to the long history of patronage globally and said that in Singapore, "patronage plays an important role in making our heritage and culture accessible to all".
Boosting individual and corporate efforts has been the Government's $200 million Cultural Matching Fund. The Government introduced this in the hope that it would encourage more philanthropy, and it has. All arts and heritage charities and Institutions of a Public Character (non-profit organisations with activities benefiting the community as a whole) can tap the fund.
Launched in November 2013, it has received "almost $150 million worth of applications", said Ms Fu.
Among those honoured last night were nine patrons who have supported the Indian Heritage Centre in Campbell Lane, the country's newest heritage institution. They include Dr Gangatharan Davar, who donated his family's rare heirloom jewellery to the centre. He received the Supporter of Heritage award, given to cultural champions who contribute between $10,000 and $49,999 in cash or kind.
Among long-time donors, Hong- Kong based jewellery designer Edmond Chin and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street received the highest award of Distinguished Patron, for contributions of $2 million or more. Both made donations in cash and kind to the Asian Civilisations Museum.
Another big SG50 gift to the nation was one by watch manufacturer Patek Philippe, whose artisan craftsmen created three one-of-a-kind commemorative dome table clocks.
An auction of these clocks last September raised $2.45 million. Proceeds from the successful bids by The Hour Glass and Mr Michael Koh Kow Tee, a collector of Peranakan ware, will go towards enhancing exhibitions and programmes of various national museums. Proceeds from watch retailer Cortina Watch's bid for the third clock will go to heritage programmes for the less privileged.
Mr Michael Tay, group managing director of The Hour Glass, received the Patron award given to donors who contribute between $1 million and $1,999,999. He said cultural philanthropy significantly adds "to the social fabric of the nation" and that this is a sector which needs both individual and corporate support.
Corporations continued to go the extra mile to support heritage efforts. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) received the Partner of Heritage award for the sixth consecutive year. This award is for contributions of between $150,000 and under $1 million. SPH provided in-kind sponsorship by waiving copyright fees for using its images for several National Heritage Board projects.
Ms Ginney Lim, its general counsel and executive vice-president of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility, said: "As Singapore's leading media company, we are heartened that our contributions have helped to conserve and promote our nation's culture and heritage."