Parliament: One-time grants for over 300 arts and culture organisations

The Singapore Chinese Orchestra held its first in-person performance since the circuit breaker last month. The concert was live-streamed on Facebook.
The Singapore Chinese Orchestra held its first in-person performance since the circuit breaker last month. The concert was live-streamed on Facebook. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA
The Singapore Chinese Orchestra held its first in-person performance since the circuit breaker last month. The concert was live-streamed on Facebook.
MR EDWIN TONG, MINISTER FOR CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA

Arts and culture organisations can receive an operating grant of either $75,000 or $50,000 to defray costs, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said.

The one-time grant will benefit more than 300 organisations. Details will be announced by the National Arts Council (NAC) at the end of the month and it will fully use the $55 million set aside for the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) by the end of this financial year on March 31, 2021.

Like other sectors, the arts industry, with its high proportion of freelance workers, has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and closure of venues.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mr Tong said the ACRP has generated more than 10,000 work and training opportunities, almost 4,000 for freelancers, and supported close to 1,200 digitalisation projects and programmes by local artists and organisations.

"We hope organisations that receive this grant will provide work opportunities for the many employees in this sector, including the freelancers," he said.

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) suggested that, to safeguard the livelihood of arts practitioners, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) work with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to offer them employment.

"MCCY and MOE can leverage on the performing expertise of our arts professionals to engage and employ them as auxiliary educators and bring real-life artistic experience to the students."

This will be "a win-win situation", giving performers an alternative revenue stream while letting students learn from experienced practitioners. Mr David said there may be concerns that practitioners lack formal qualifications but referred to a Sunday Times report in which Cultural Medallion recipient Jeremy Monteiro said "it would be a waste" if these experienced musicians are not allowed to formally teach: "The same could be said of theatre practitioners or dancers."

Agreeing, Mr Tong said "NAC has worked with NIE International since 2012 to develop a course on the Essentials of Teaching and Learning for arts practitioners to become arts educators."

In the short term, the ACRP and other financial aid schemes will help the industry, he said, adding: "We know the most sustainable way to help our sectors is to resume activities at scale, but also safely."

Noting that the performance pilot programmes have been carried out safely and successfully, he added: "We are reviewing how we can fully resume and scale up live performances for the sector, with the appropriate measures to always prioritise the safety of our audiences, performers and crew.

"In the coming days, we hope to progressively reintroduce programmes at museums in a safe manner as more social activities resume."

He also urged Singaporeans to show their support. He said: "Now, our practitioners need you, as well. I urge all of us to support them as much as we can."

To the arts and sports communities, he said: "We value the work that you do, and the Government will support you."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2020, with the headline One-time grants for over 300 arts and culture organisations. Subscribe