Gillman Barracks is sleepy rather than bustling

Gillman Barracks is sleepy rather than bustling

Extended opening hours and new shows for anniversary

The outlying cluster off Alexandra Road now comprises 14 galleries and three dining spots. It is developed by the Economic Development Board (EDB) together with JTC Corporation and the National Arts Council.

Visitors to the enclave have lamented the absence of sheltered walkways linking the sprawling grounds, a dearth of conspicuous signs providing direction and limited offerings for refreshment.

Echoing a common sentiment among visitors, Mr Albert Lee, 41, general manager of a medical device company, says: "The galleries are too far apart for me to enjoy the walk in Singapore's warm weather and there is nothing in between - a cafe or a shop - that doesn't make it feel like I am just trekking between buildings."

The recent introduction of parking charges on the grounds has made Gillman Barracks even less welcoming with attendance at some galleries reduced by half to fewer than 30 people a day. But things at the arts belt may soon look up.

For one thing, signpost banners will be raised in time for its first anniversary this month and more signage will be added thereafter to the 6.4ha site.

New food and beverage outlets offering wallet-friendly fare will open in a few months' time to augment the current roster of swish restaurants Masons and The Naked Finn, and music lounge Timbre. Sheltered walkways are also in the pipeline.

Dr Eugene Tan, 39, programme director of special projects at EDB's lifestyle programme office, tells Life! it originally resisted "overbuilding" and tried to keep the former army barracks as they were.

"We felt it was an experience to be walking among nature in between your experience of art galleries," he says. "But we now recognise that a few more walkways would be useful."

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