While Singapore seeks to be a global city for the arts, the “soft authoritarian” (Ooi, 2010) hand of the government remains evident; culture is seen as a “site for governmentality” (Lee, 2007) and cultural planning is closely directed by the government. The Singapore government’s 2012 cultural policy plan, the Arts and Culture Strategic Review, placed emphasis on greater public participation in the arts. New funding and programmes were subsequently introduced to promote the involvement of ‘community’ in the arts. At the same time, other public agencies such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority took a greater interest in using the arts for city- and place-making programmes, and adopted a multi-stakeholder approach. Space has opened up for arts/ creative practices such as public participatory art and participatory design. In an environment where the government is a dominant presence, how does the arts sector negotiate between being incorporated into the national agenda and enabling meaningful participation by the public or ‘community’ in projects with a concern for social and cultural issues that might challenge the political orthodoxy? Is there room for public discourse on social and cultural issues in these projects and how does it occur? It is possible that a habitual practice of collaboration - among artistic collaborators as well as cross-sectoral collaborations between artists, other non-governmental civic organisations as well as agencies of the state - provides a key to understanding these questions. A study of how artistic collectives work in Singapore could yield insights into such collaborative ways of working.
Collaborative and cross-sectoral approaches in the arts in Singapore - the case of artistic collectives
Audrey Wong Wai Yen
SEA History, Culture, Policy
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