2012 DiverseCity Showcase - Bringing Singapore art to the world

15/11/2012

SPEECH BY MR LAWRENCE WONG, ACTING MINISTER FOR CULTURE, COMMUNITY, AND YOUTH, AND SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION AT THE LAUNCH OF THE 2012 DIVERSECITY SHOWCASE AT THE SINGAPORE ARTS MUSEUM ON THURSDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2012, AT 7.10PM

Excellencies

Friends from the arts community

Ladies and gentlemen

            I am very happy to be here at this year’s DiverseCity Showcase.  It is fitting that we are gathered at the Singapore Arts Museum, or SAM as this place is known, as SAM advocates and presents contemporary art from Singapore and the Southeast Asian region.  Similarly, our host for this evening, the Singapore International Foundation, brings people together and builds relationships between Singaporeans and the rest of the world.

Bringing Singapore art to the world

2          Tonight, we come together to celebrate a special group of people, the 92 talented Singaporean artists – our cultural ambassadors – who bring Singapore to the world through the sharing of insights, exchange of perspectives and collaborative efforts. Supported by SIF’s Singapore Internationale grant, 108 projects were presented in 91 cities in 34 countries this year, sharing insights into Singapore with global communities through exhibitions, performances, and artistic collaborations.

3          Jean had earlier mentioned Mintio’s collaboration with Indonesian artist Kabul. Many other artists have similar experiences to share.  Like Dr Danny Tan, founder and artistic director of the Odyssey Dance Theatre.  According to Danny, “the international exchanges have allowed local dancers to be artistically exposed to dance in a global context. Being the first overseas exchange experience for most of these dancers, they have gained insights and inspiration through their interactions with international artists and observations of working processes, which will aid them in their artistic pursuits.” And Danny knows what he’s talking about – he has worked tirelessly for the past decade with Korean arts and cultural institutions.

Arts for all and Power of the Arts

4          Besides bringing Singaporean art to the world, the SIF also partners the international community in Singapore to bring art to our people.  Through SIF’s Arts Connection programme, youths at the Little Arts Academy interact with the Australian, Belgian, Mexican, American, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese communities in Singapore. For instance, these youths from the Social Arts Academy had a chance to meet former professional basketball players when they were brought to Singapore by members of the American Association of Singapore.  The youths also learnt about ao dai, Vietnam’s traditional costume, and even designed their own ao dai; they learnt how to make Vietnamese salad rolls when volunteers from the Vietnamese community at the National University of Singapore visited them.

5          SIF’s volunteers have also worked with partner organisations to empower disadvantaged children and women in countries like Cambodia and India.  Esther Joosa, an SIF volunteer and arts education consultant, was involved in an arts workshop with a local community in Tamil Nadu last year. She said of her experience: “The art workshops were a testimony to the power of the arts; the masks, drawings, paintings and photos gave participants a face and a voice and allowed me to see each individual as any other person in the community, with friends, aspirations and beliefs. It also allowed me to see that not every aspect of their lives is related to living with adversity. ”

6          All these activities underscore the importance of the arts and culture.  Art forms are created out of a people’s need to express their attitude about existence. Art is a way to re-enact moments in a people’s history or to capture a people’s experience with their environment and with one another.  In this respect, art allows us to speak to each other at a basic human level, one that transcends linguistic and cultural differences.  Such is the diverse and multi-faceted role of the arts and of our artists.

7          On this note, I would like to congratulate SIF for doing good work, and also for the launch of this year’s DiverseCity showcase. It is truly a celebration of how art and culture can uplift lives, and a celebration of multilateral collaborations between Singapore and the global community. I wish the SIF every success in this exhibition and wish you all a pleasant evening.

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