Arts and heritage for everyone, everywhere, everyday
Our arts and heritage play an essential role in fostering a caring people, a cohesive society, and a confident nation. Singaporeans enjoy widespread access to arts and heritage offerings guided by Our SG Arts Plan and Our SG Heritage Plan, which are the blueprints for the respective sectors for 2018 to 2022.
Based on the Singapore Cultural Statistics Report 2019, attendances at arts and culture events reached an all-time high of 13.6 million in 2018, surpassing the previous high of 13.2 million in 2017. Annual visitorship to national museums and heritage institutions was also sustained at around 5.4 million in 2018, similar to the all-time high in 2017. In addition, four in five Singaporeans surveyed in the Population Survey on the Arts 2019 indicated that arts and culture help them foster a greater sense of belonging and identity and serve as a source of pride.
Diverse offerings, multiple touchpoints
Singaporeans currently enjoy year-round programmes and exhibitions at our national arts and culture institutions, such as the National Museum of Singapore, the Asian Civilisations Museum, the National Gallery Singapore, and the Esplanade.
Annual cultural festivals are also held throughout the year to celebrate and showcase Singapore’s creative talents and cultural heritage. These include the Singapore Art Week, the Singapore Heritage Festival, the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the Singapore Night Festival, and the Singapore Writers Festival. They provide platforms for arts practitioners to pursue their aspirations and offer experiences enjoyed by many Singaporeans.
In addition, residents can enjoy the arts and culture in their own neighbourhoods:
- In 2019, two seasons of Arts in Your Neighbourhood were held in March and November, reaching an audience of 440,000 through more than 100 activities held at over 20 locations islandwide.
- Through the PAssionArts Festival 2019, about 30,000 residents from a wide range of backgrounds had the opportunity to come together to co-create 200 sets of art installations to commemorate Singapore’s Bicentennial.
- Singaporeans who are keen to find out more about the rich heritage of different neighbourhoods and everyday spaces around the island can choose from close to 20 curated heritage trails.
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In 2019, 75% of Singaporeans indicated that they consumed arts and cultural content through digital means, a marked increase from 61% in 2017. The digitalisation of our arts and heritage content has continued to be accelerated by COVID-19, with cultural practitioners transforming how they engage existing audiences and develop new ones. Today, curated local cultural content is available to all Singaporeans anytime and anywhere through the ongoing #SGCultureAnywhere campaign.
Enhancing access to our arts and heritage
Ongoing efforts are being taken to ensure that cultural offerings and spaces are inclusive and cater to under-reached communities, such as children and youths from disadvantaged backgrounds, persons with disabilities, and seniors. Specially designed programmes provide opportunities for such communities to interact with others from diverse backgrounds and build new connections:
- In 2019, about 2,400 beneficiaries across 112 social service agencies, including at-risk youths, isolated seniors, and children from disadvantaged backgrounds, were able to participate in customised arts programmes supported by the WeCare Arts Fund.
- Visitors with special needs can visit our museums and navigate the spaces more independently with specially customised resources, such as visual schedules, sensory maps, social stories, audio tours, and large-print exhibition captions.
- Over 2,000 seniors, including some with dementia, have enjoyed our museums and specially designed heritage programmes under the Silver Hubs initiative launched in 2018. In addition, the arts have been integrated into the community care framework to promote the well-being and active ageing of our seniors. Over 480 healthcare staff from 115 community care facilities have been trained and equipped to run specialised arts programmes for seniors in community care.
Safeguarding our cultural heritage
We are committed to safeguarding Singapore’s multicultural heritage, a defining facet of our identity, for future generations of Singaporeans. This includes our tangible heritage – such as historic buildings and sites – as well as Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) – the traditions, rituals, crafts, expressions, knowledge, and skills that we practice and pass on over generations.
In March 2019, “Hawker Culture in Singapore: Community Dining and Culinary Practices in a Multicultural Urban Context” was nominated for inscription on the UNESCO Representative List of the ICH of Humanity. Hawker Culture is an integral part of everyday life in Singapore and is about the people, places, and food. Singaporeans from all backgrounds and walks of life strongly supported the nomination, with many private, community, and school groups stepping forward to raise awareness of Hawker Culture. We look forward to the outcome of the nomination in December 2020 and for Singapore’s first successful UNESCO ICH inscription.
An inclusive and vibrant arts and culture landscape
COVID-19 has transformed the way Singaporeans consume and engage with our arts and culture, as well as how our arts and culture practitioners hone and deliver their craft. The cultural community has come together to support one another and adapt to these developments in innovative ways. Guided by the priorities in Our SG Arts and Heritage Plans, our arts and culture community receives support through initiatives like the $55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package, as well as the Arts Resource Hub which provides creative freelancers resources to sustainably continue their practice, unlock new opportunities, and grow meaningful careers.
The value of the arts and culture has become even more evident in such unprecedented times, from uplifting spirits and providing comfort to inspiring Singaporeans of what is possible. This is built upon years of efforts by the Government and the arts and culture community, which has led to a percolation of pride and love for our unique culture and heritage, evident in the ground-up initiatives that have emerged and gathered momentum:
- In 2019, the Eurasian Heritage Gallery, the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, and the Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery were launched largely through concerted efforts by the local communities. Local shop owners with at least 30 years of history in selected historic precincts are working with the Government to co-create unique site-specific “mini museums” to showcase the history and heritage of their trades.
- Individuals are also stepping up. For example, artist-producer Lin Shiyun started the project Let’s Go Play Outside! in Toa Payoh to show children the creative possibilities of their everyday surroundings and bring arts activities to the doorstep of lower-income families. This was expanded to the open playground at Boon Lay Drive in 2018, with the involvement of artists and volunteers.
The Government will continue to partner Singaporeans to ensure that our arts and culture ecosystem is well-positioned to seize opportunities in the new normal and will continue to be vibrant and inclusive for all.
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