Careers in arts sector drawing the young

Careers in arts sector drawing the young

Film student Thais Breton graduated from the Lasalle College of the Arts on Wednesday, and plans to chase her dream of making documentaries.

"The arts scene here is evolving, and younger generations of parents are more accepting of their children pursuing a career in the arts," said Ms Breton, 23, who won this year's McNally Award, given to the best-performing student from each cohort.

Whether it is dance, theatre, music, film or art, more people here are pursuing their passions and exploring various career paths in the arts.

With generous government funding and big global names setting up shop in Singapore, jobs are opening up and arts schools are seeing a surge in popularity.

One of the biggest and oldest arts institutions here, the 30-year-old Lasalle took in 1,000 students this year, up from 800 in 2008.

"This is a country with a cultural landscape that is not just blossoming but exploding into life," said Lasalle president Steve Dixon.

"More and more creative companies are emerging and finding success, while new arts centres and performance venues are springing up with rapid regularity, as are new art galleries."

The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts is planning a fourth campus in Bencoolen Street to meet soaring demand. It has been able to take in only around 700 students a year because of space constraints.

And the School of the Arts Singapore (Sota) has up to 1,000 applications for its 200 places each year. In 2008, when the school started, it received about 800 applications.

"Parents here no longer believe that their children have to follow the conventional route to success," said Ms Yau Sow Shan, a divisional manager at a training and consultancy firm, who has three daughters aged between 14 and 17 at Sota.

"With all the recent developments, parents see a future for their children in the arts scene here."

Major companies such as French gaming giant Ubisoft and American animation studio Lucasfilm have set up regional bases here.

Such developments help provide the infrastructure and platforms for artists to flourish, says the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

And some local companies have started to gain prominence. Take graphic design firm Phunk Studio, co-founded by Mr Jackson Tan, a visual communication graduate from Lasalle.

The company has done projects for major brands such as Nike and Levi's, and its clients have included international rock superstars The Rolling Stones.

"With proper exposure, Singapore, too, can produce talents in the arts scene," said Mr Tan.

At a time when budgets for the arts are being cut elsewhere, Singapore is spending more on artistic grants and developing venues for the arts.

Government funding for the arts increased from $230.2 million in 2005 to almost $480 million in 2012.

In July, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall reopened after four years and $158 million in refurbishment works.

Next year, the spotlight will turn to the new National Gallery Singapore when it opens.

During the Lasalle convocation ceremony at the Singapore Expo on Wednesday,Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said the Government would continue to support the arts with resources and infrastructure.

"Pursuing one's passion in the arts can admittedly be less predictable than doing so in other professions. This is the case in most places around the world," he said.

"There are no iron-clad guarantees in life, but we have good reason to be optimistic about the prospects of our art graduates."

calyang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sept 26, 2014.
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