DrVenka Purushothaman


Dr Venka Purushothaman

Deputy President & Provost
  • PhD (Cultural Policy & Asian Cultural Studies), The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • MA (Shakespeare & Postcolonial Studies), York University, Toronto, Canada
  • BA Hons (English Literature & Mass Communication), York University

Venka Purushothaman is an academic, award-winning art writer and arts & cultural leader with a distinguished career in arts higher education and the cultural and creative industries.

As an academic and educational leader, Venka has led significant transformation at LASALLE College of the Arts in response to the morphing cultural landscape in Southeast Asia. He is responsible for the quality of practice-led arts education, steering the development of industry-sensitive programmes, student-centred curriculum and profile of the College globally in arts higher education.

Venka advances artistic and cultural networks, and cultivates arts and cultural leaders sensitive to the emerging shifts in culture and society in the 21st century. His pedagogic philosophy is to ensure that contemporary Asia is given appropriate place and voice in curriculum, thereby representing the voice of a new generation of artists. In this regard, he steered the development of numerous path-breaking programmes and founded the collective, Asia-Pacific Network for Culture, Education and Research (ANCER) to facilitate cultural leadership and research in Southeast Asia. He is a founding member of the Global Design Initiative/Faculty, involving five international universities exploring cross-cultural design pedagogies and practices. Venka continues to lecture internationally on the evolving role of arts higher education in the creative economy, and seeks to give voice to an emerging generation of 21st century artists.

Venka is an award-winning author of numerous artist monographs and books on cultural policy and festivals. The Art of Sukumar Bose: Reflections on South and Southeast Asia​ (2013) was awarded 2015 ICAS Best Art Book Accolade by the International Congress of Asian Scholars, Leiden University. His books on culture include Making Visible the Invisible: Three Decades of the Singapore Arts Festival (2007), which remains the most comprehensive documentation of the arts festival from 1977–2007, and Narratives: Notes on a Cultural Journey, Cultural Medallion Recipients, 1979–2002 (2002) which inaugurated the documentation and study of artistic leaders in Singapore in subsequent years.

As an arts and cultural leader prior to academia, Venka has worked with various cultural organisations including the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, National Arts Council Singapore and Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, and on arts events such as WOMAD and the Singapore Arts Festival. Moreover, lived experiences in Singapore, Toronto and Melbourne, coupled with extensive travel across the globe – researching the cultural differences in the management of arts festivals and biennales – have provided him with a rare insight into the world of cultural flow and sensitivity to the place of art in societies and communities.

With this highly enriched portfolio, Venka today serves as an expert on many professional, academic and government committees, and has chaired important panels on arts funding, cultural awards and those dedicated to developing youths. He remains one of the few arts leaders in Southeast Asia who is adept in working seamlessly across the visual arts, performing arts, design and education sectors. In 2013, he was awarded the Friend of MCCY Award (Ministry of Culture Community and Youth) for his service to arts and culture in Singapore.


For full publication listing, visit: www.orcid.org (research ID: 0000-0003-0861-3824).


  • Art of Sukumar Bose: Reflections on South and Southeast Asia (2013), awarded International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) Book Prize – Best Art Book Accolade (2015)
  • Dance Me through the Dark: The Photography of Tan Ngiap Heng (2008)
  • Making Visible the Invisible: Three Decades of the Singapore Arts Festival (2007)
  • Salleh Japar: Gurindam dan Igauan (2004)
  • Narratives: Notes on a Cultural Journey, Cultural Medallion Recipients, 1979–2002 (2002)


Journal editor

  • Editor of Issue, an annual peer-reviewed international art journal that curates essays, exhibitions and interviews on contemporary art and artistic practices (2013–current)


Articles and essays

  • ’Presencing’ in Mazumdar’s Art in Hemen Mazumdar: The Last Romantic, Singapore Management University Publications; Singapore (2019)
  • Presenting Culture and Nationhood: Singapore Arts Festival in The State and the Arts in Singapore, edited by Terence Chong, World Scientific Press; Singapore (2018)
  • The Software Only Spits Us Out, or Articulating an Emerging Cultural Practice in Coding, Sensing, Making: Media Lab Projects 2014-2018, compiled and curated by Andreas Schlegel, LASALLE; Singapore (June 2018)
  • Socializing with the Colonial: Curating Cultural Representation in Artist and Empire – Encountering Colonial Legacies, Third Text Forum Online, http://thirdtext.org/artist-empire-singapore; London (June 2017)
  • Drafting History: Meditation on Location, Institutions and Mythmaking in Visual Arts in Postcolonial Singapore in Charting Thoughts: Essays on Art in Southeast Asia, National Gallery Publication; Singapore (May 2017)
  • Creative Economy, Cultural Policy and Arts Higher Education in Renaissance Singapore in Higher Education and the Creative Economy: Beyond the Campus, edited by Roberta Communian and Abigail Gilmore, Routledge; New York (2016)
  • Locating Culture: Art, Policy and Production of Culture in Singapore in Histories, Practices, Intervention: A Reader in Singapore Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Arts; Singapore (2016)
Keynotes and Lectures
  • Transcultural Learning through Shared Campus Design Projects, CUMULUS (May 2019)
  • Art, Speculative Pedagogies and the Culture of Excess, Yale-NUS (December 2018)
  • Cultural Values and Cultural Policy in Global Singapore, Tree of Culture Conference, Mongolian State University of Arts & Culture (July 2018)
  • Intersecting Global Learning Environments: Art, Economy and Technology, CBCA Art + Technology Forum, University of Colorado Denver; USA (April 2018)
  • Making Sense as Praxis: A Response to Estelle Barett’s Practice-As-Research, International Symposium on Practice as Research; Hong Kong APA (December 2017)
  • Magic Realism and Negotiating the ‘foreign’ in Southeast Asian Contemporary Art. Global Art Programme, University of Birmingham; UK (October 2017)
  • Harnessing Art and Culture in Building ASEAN Identity, Southeast Asian Youth Movement Conference, Yale University & National University of Singapore (May 2016)
  • Arts Schools: Future of Creative Practice & Research. Art Research// Refl/acting on Arts, Design and Art Education Conference. ARTEZ University of the Arts; Netherlands (November 2016)
Awards (select)
  • Service Award – Broadcast, Publications and Arts Appeal Committee, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore (2016)
  • Best Art Book Accolade – Art of Sukumar Bose, International Convention of Asian Scholars, Leiden University (2015)
  • Friend of MCCY – for service to arts and culture, Ministry of Culture, Communication and Youth, Singapore (2013)
  • University Fellow, Musashino Art University, Japan (2017–present)
  • McNally Fellow, LASALLE/Ireland Fund, Singapore (2017–2019)
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (2016/2017)
  • Fellow, Royal Society of the Arts, UK (2010–present)
Professional Memberships & Affiliations (select)


  • Member, Living Arts International, USA (2018–current)
  • Member, Shared Campus Leadership Committee, Zurich (2018–current)
  • Deputy Chair, International Advisory Council, Cambodia Living Arts, USA/Cambodia (2017–current)
  • Member, Strategy Group, GTEA, Higher Education Academy, UK (2016–current)
  • Member, Joint Advisory Board, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, USA/Doha (2015–current)
  • Member, European League of Institute of Arts (ELIA), Amsterdam (2010–current)
  • Member, Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art (AICA), France (2006–current)



  • Chair, Arts Awards, National Arts Council (2007–2008, 2011, 2017–current)
  • Chair, Theatre Grants & Funding Committee, National Arts Council (2007–2009)
  • Council Member, National Arts Council (2008–2010)
  • Member, Public Art Advisory Panel, National Arts Council (2018–present)
  • Member, Siglap South Indian Activities Executive Committee (2006–present)
  • Member, Arts Advisory Group, National Arts Council (2001–present)
  • Member, Stamp Advisory Committee, IMDA (2008–present)
  • Member, Arts, Broadcasting & Publications Appeal Advisory Committee, IMDA (2007–present)
  • Member, Music and Dance Company Advisory Panel, MINDEF (2012–present)
  • Member, School of the Arts (SOTA) Review Committee (2017)
  • Member, Festival Review Committee (2012)
  • Member, Singapore Arts Festival Steering Committee (2004–2009)
  • Member, Acquisition Committee, Singapore Art Museum (2005–2007), National Gallery Singapore (2008–2010), Istana (2009–2014)
  • Member, Group Parliamentary Committee Advisory Panel for Ministry of Information Communication & the Arts (2007–2009)
  • Member, Commissioning Panel, Venice Biennale Singapore Pavilion (2005)
  • Academic Service (select)
    • Chair, Institutional Board of Examiners (2017–present)
    • Member, Research Committee, (2013–present)
    • Management Representative, Committee of Private Education (2010–present)
    • Chair, Academic Quality Assurance Committee (2008–present)
    • Chair, Student Disciplinary Committee (2008–present)
    • Chair, Bursaries and Scholarships Committee (2008–present)
    • Deputy Chair, Academic Board (2008–present)
    • Chair, Board of Examiners (2008–2016)
    Research Interests
    • Cultural policy and arts leadership
    • Contemporary art in South and Southeast Asia
    • Festival cultures
    • Arts higher education