New Chinese centre to encourage multiculturalism

New Chinese centre to encourage multiculturalism
PM Lee Hsien Loong looking at a model of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, with its CEO Choo Thiam Siew (far left) and director of the centre’s designer DP Architects, Ms Lesley Lim.

PERFORMANCES at the upcoming Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre in Shenton Way will include collaborations with non-Chinese arts groups, said its chief executive Choo Thiam Siew.

For instance, non-Chinese musicians could be invited to play for say, a Chinese dance, he said, adding: "Chinese flautists already play together with Indian tabla musicians."

Mr Choo was elaborating on the vision that the centre's chairman Chua Thian Poh outlined at the building's ground-breaking ceremony yesterday. The event was officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is the centre's patron.

The 11-storey centre, Mr Chua said, will "encourage integration among all races in Singapore".

When ready in 2016, it will "mark the beginning of a new era in Singapore's cultural history".

"I am confident the centre will lead and contribute much diversity and colour to Singapore's culture," he added.

The idea for the centre was mooted by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, of which Mr Chua is the president. Sited next to the Singapore Conference Hall, it will include an art gallery, a 150-seat recital hall, a multi-purpose hall and a 530-seat auditorium.

At last month's National Day Rally, PM Lee said in Mandarin that the centre will promote both traditional Chinese culture and a modern, uniquely local variant that has sprung up here.

He highlighted how the arts have come into their own. "After many years of nurturing, Singapore Chinese culture has taken shape as the Nanyang style."

Citing xinyao, a Singapore Mandarin folk movement popular in the 1980s, he noted that it is experiencing a revival of interest.

He also cited the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and its multicultural repertoire, and a local brand of Chinese dances by Dance Ensemble Singapore which has infused stylistic elements from other cultures.

The centre - described as "handsome" by PM Lee in a Facebook post later - is designed by DP Architects. Its director Lesley Lim said its architecture would be "contemporary with subtle inspirations from traditional Chinese architecture".

Mr Bian Huibin, president of the Chinese Opera and Drama Society (Singapore), hopes the centre will spark more interest in local Chinese culture.

He told The Straits Times in Mandarin: "With its accessibility and strong brand, it will be a good platform for local Chinese arts practitioners."

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