Prudent to take time to review, organise Arts Fest

From Yvonne Tham Deputy Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Council
04:45 AM Jun 23, 2012

We thank Mr Leong Sze Hian for his feedback.

Over the past 35 years, the arts scene has grown tremendously.

Today, besides the Arts Festival, there is a range of quality arts performances available year-round, including international acts and festivals presented by the Esplanade and local arts companies.

In light of this and the recently announced Arts and Culture Strategic Review, it is timely to review comprehensively the Festival’s role in our arts calendar and develop-ment.

Another aspect of the review is the Festival’s operating model.

While the National Arts Council does work closely with and commissions local arts companies to create works for the Festival, NAC solely undertakes the planning, curating and organisation of the Festival.

Going forward, we hope our arts companies and practitioners will play a more active role in these components of the programme.

We believe this fundamental shift will evolve a more engaging Festival and open up new opportunities for our arts companies to develop.

We agree with Mr Leong and expect the review committee to complete its work within six months. The committee will examine the Festival’s role and programme structure and formulate its new operating model.

The committee will look into suggestions for selected activities next year that can help build momentum towards the 2014 Singapore Arts Festival.

However, beyond the needs of this review, the organising of an Arts Festival at a national scale with international participation would typically require 18 to 24 months of preparatory work.

This includes the identification of appropriate artists and works, the negotiation and coordination with local and overseas artists and, most importantly, the gestation process of commissioned works to be ready for a public stage.

So, instead of rushing out a Festival next year for continuity’s sake, we decided it was more prudent to dedicate the necessary time for developing one that would realise the goals above and deliver its full benefits to our arts community and public.

We recognise that the Festival has been an important part of Singaporeans’ lives. Many have fond memories of it.

This is why NAC decided to dedicate the time, with our arts community, to conduct a comprehensive review and develop a Festival in 2014 and beyond that would excite and engage all Singaporeans.


Reason given for hiatus is puzzling
From Leong Sze Hian
04:45 AM Jun 23, 2012

I refer to the report “S’pore Arts Fest on hiatus” (June 6).

The reason given – that one of the objectives is to involve the arts community more closely in the planning of the festival, which, to be done properly, means it cannot be business as usual, where the planning is done just by the arts council – is puzzling.

Does it mean that, all these years, the arts community was not “more closely” involved? Should this not have been the obvious thing to do in the first place?

Also, why is so much time needed to conduct the review of the festival, such that next year’s festival will not be held? Three to six months should suffice.

Save for natural disasters, it may be unprecedented for any country to drop its annual arts festival for a year, and one that has been going on for 35 years.

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.