SINGAPORE: Freelancers and businesses in the arts and culture sector will stand to benefit from new grants, as part of a S$20 million enhancement to the Arts and Culture Resilience Package, announced Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong on Monday (Mar 8).
This will bring the total amount of support under the package to S$75 million.
Speaking at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s (MCCY) Committee of Supply debate in Parliament, Mr Tong said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “profound impact” on a sector which thrives on having a presence - both onstage and in the audience.
“While live performances resumed safely in Phase 3, the return of capacity audience will take some time ... This however has put pressure on arts organisations and artists to cover operating costs,” the minister said.
A new Self-Employed Person Grant will provide up to S$50,000 per project, said Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling, and can involve live performance, digital presentations or skills development.
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The grant will help to sustain the livelihoods of freelancers by minimising job and income loss, she said.
In his speech, Mr Tong added: “We recognise that freelancing, or self-employment, adds spontaneity and innovation to the sector. It helps us to uplift the arts ecosystem ... and this grant is aimed at preserving that.”
This is open to Singaporeans and permanent residents in the arts and culture sector, as well as arts and culture organisations that collaborate with freelancers.
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The National Arts Council (NAC) will prioritise projects that benefit a larger number of freelancers, that are digital in nature and involve capability development.
In addition, a new Business Transformation Fund will support arts and culture organisations as they transform.
There will be two parts to this fund. A Business Transformation Grant will provide up to S$30,000 to digitalise such organisations or improve their administration and service delivery, said Ms Low.
It will provide up to S$200,000 per project when organisations come together to collaborate on IT projects that benefit multiple users, or projects with the potential for wider industry spin-offs.
For the second part, MCCY and NAC will proactively commission or work with suitable partners to pilot business transformation solutions for the arts and culture sector. NAC will engage the sector in the coming weeks on the Self-Employed Persons Grant and the Business Transformation Grant to ensure that they meet the needs of the sector.
NAC aims to launch both grants by June.
MCCY introduced the S$55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package on Apr 7 last year to support the sector amid the COVID-19 crisis. It also supports the development of long-term capabilities of the arts and culture sector.
The package created over 13,000 work and training opportunities, with more than 5,000 for self-employed practitioners, said Ms Low.
Under this year’s enhancement to the Package, MCCY will also disburse a second tranche of the Arts and Culture Resilience Package Operating Grant. Each organisation will receive S$35,000, tentatively in July 2021.
Previously, the Government offered S$75,000 or S$50,000 per organisation, based on its size.
MCCY will also extend an 80 per cent venue hire subsidy for another three months, until June this year. Since its launch in 2020, more than 300 venues were hired under this scheme, said Ms Low.
SINGAPORE’S CULTURE AND HERITAGE
The National Heritage Board (NHB) will work with Singaporeans and relevant agencies to identify potential elements for future nomination for UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Culture Heritage of Humanity, said Ms Low.
This is following the successful inscription of Singapore’s hawker culture to the list in December last year.
NHB will conduct a series of focus groups this year and invite Singaporeans to share their feedback. More details will be provided later.
As part of the Golden Jubilee of National Monuments, NHB will restore several monuments completed in the mid to late 19th century. They are the former Istana Kampong Gelam, the main building of the Istana, the National Museum of Singapore and the former Empress Place Building, which is currently the Asian Civilisations Museum.
Several museums will reopen. The Changi Chapel and Museum and Reflections at Bukit Chandu will reopen this year, while the Peranakan Museum will reopen in the first quarter of 2023.
The Singapore Philatelic Museum will become Singapore’s first dedicated children’s museum, slated to open in 2022.
CULTURAL MEDALLION RECIPIENTS
To honour Singapore’s Cultural Medallion recipients, the Government will launch a Cultural Medallion Gallery to showcase artistic practices and works of Cultural Medallion recipients.
"The Cultural Medallion is Singapore’s highest artistic accolade that recognises individuals for their artistic excellence and contributions to our cultural landscape," said Ms Low.
It is targeted for a soft launch in the fourth quarter of this year.
This is part of MCCY’s efforts to “recognise and celebrate” the intangible heritage created by Singapore’s arts and cultural talents, and enhance the public appreciation of this legacy, she added.
The National Arts Council is also working with the National Library Board on creating a national digital repository of the Cultural Medallion recipients’ works, which will be made available to the public and researchers.
Ms Low added that MCCY will develop an Arts and Culture Digital Roadmap to provide a framework for the arts and culture sector to adopt digital solutions.
It will also serve as a “one-stop directory” of relevant Government grants and schemes, said Ms Low.