SINGAPORE - Big changes are afoot at Arts Festival Limited, the holding company running the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa), which was in the news last week for a public e-mail spat between its two leaders.
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Here is the press release from the National Arts Council:
The National Arts Council (NAC) is pleased to announce the merger of The Old Parliament House Limited (TOPH) and Arts Festival Limited (AFL), starting 1 April 2014. The merged entity, Arts House Limited, effectively harnesses the synergies between the roles of managing arts spaces and a major arts festival, to connect with arts audiences and support artistic development. Current AFL chief executive Ms Lee Chor Lin will lead the new company.
TOPH has played an active role in the Singapore arts and creative scene, starting with the opening of The Arts House in 2004. The Arts House has grown as a centre for writing, writers and ideas, and has supported and presented programmes and festivals that develop and promote literary arts in Singapore. Since then, TOPH has gone on to manage several other arts centres, including Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, on a sustainable model that blends space and place management capabilities.
Under the new company, Arts House Limited, TOPH's and AFL's respective core functions remain; Arts House Limited will continue to maintain its place management function and its focus on writing and Singapore literature for The Arts House. It will also present the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) every year. The Arts House will become SIFA's new home, adding vibrancy and buzz to the venue as well as the surrounding civic district. Its proximity to the refurbished Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall will also help boost the profile of the civic district as a centre for arts and cultural activities.
Says Ms Kathy Lai, CEO, NAC, "When we formed AFL in May 2013, we were mindful of the Arts Festival Review Committee's recommendation for a festival centre, to allow for year-long engagement beyond the festival season. We considered it carefully and felt that there is great synergy between AFL and TOPH. The merger will also allow for more effective sharing of resources, stronger programming, marketing, education and outreach for both AFL's and TOPH's programmes. On The Arts House's 10th anniversary, it is apt that we celebrate this next milestone of growth."
Ms Lee Chor Lin, incoming CEO of Arts House Limited, says, "We are excited by the many possibilities that will arise from the converging strengths of both companies. This merger allows us to deepen our conversation with arts audiences as we collaborate to collectively grow with the burgeoning arts scene."
The Little Arts Academy (LAA) and the Business Times Budding Artist Fund (BTBAF), which were set up under TOPH, will be transferred to a new company set up by current TOPH chief executive, Mr Colin Goh. This new company will focus on bringing free or subsidised arts enrichment programmes to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since 2005, the BTBAF has reached out to over 8,000 financially-disadvantaged children.
Through its various programmes over the years, the LAA has grown and established a strong reputation for the role it plays in giving all children an opportunity to develop his or her talents in the arts. The NAC and TOPH Board are confident that the LAA has reached a stage where it is ready to exist as a standalone entity with a clear focus, under a formalised BTBAF Board of Trustees. NAC is committed to supporting this cause, and will make available resources where appropriate.