What I wish for in 2015

What I wish for in 2015

Ten industry personalities talk about the significance of this year for their sector, what they are looking forward to and the changes they hope to see.

Visual arts

Dr Eugene Tan, 43, director, National Gallery Singapore

"2015 promises to be another equally exciting year for the visual arts, if 2014 has been anything to go by.

"The Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at Gillman Barracks and the Singapore Art Museum look set to host some exciting exhibitions. Art galleries, such as those at Gillman Barracks, and fairs such as Art Stage Singapore and the Singapore Art Fair will continue to develop the art market.

"However, something overlooked in our art scene and which has much potential is the CCA's residency programme. This programme has brought international and regional artists (such as Sam Durant from the United States and Pratchaya Phinthong from Thailand) to our shores and fostered an engagement with our artists and art scene. It is programmes such as this that will reinforce Singapore's role as an international centre for art in the region this year.

"The highlight in the visual arts scene will, for me, undoubtedly be the opening of the National Gallery Singapore.

"While this may be a biased view, it is my conviction that the National Gallery will transform the visual arts landscape in Singapore and the region when we open in November.

"For the first time, there will be a major public institution, housed in two historically significant and magnificent buildings (the City Hall and former Supreme Court), with a collection to match, that will be focused on the historical development of art in Singapore and South-east Asia since the 19th century.

"The public will be able to experience and learn, through our two permanent galleries on Singapore and South-east Asia, about the development of art in the last 150 years as well as, through our special exhibitions, better understand how the art of our country and region relates to the art of other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe and America."

Movies

Lim Teck, 39, managing director of Clover Films

"By all counts, 2015 is going to be an exciting year for the movie industry. It has been reported that there will be more than 20 Singapore- made movies released this year. This is indicative that our industry is growing.

"To have more movies will mean additional exposure for local film-makers and, given that this year is Singapore's 50th anniversary, hopefully local audiences will give more support to local movies.

"However, I am concerned film-makers here are focusing more on obtaining enough funds to get movies made and placing less emphasis on the quality of the movies and whether the movies will sell.

"Over the past three years, the Media Development Authority has been very supportive in providing grants to film-makers and this is a positive move. I hope local film-makers, with better support in funding, can make good movies that will sell, as only a sustainable movie industry will continue to grow.

"Clover Films just celebrated its fifth anniversary last month and we strive to continue to produce good movies and bring in strong Asian titles. We will be releasing four Chinese movies during the Chinese New Year period and hope to bring in more than 20 Asian titles this year. Let's hope the overall box office will scale new heights this year and be a record-breaking one for the industry."

Performing arts

Ong Keng Sen, 51, festival director of the Singapore International Festival of Arts and artistic director of TheatreWorks

"I'm interested to see how the artistic community negotiates SG50 and what SG50 means.

"Artists are a strong voice in the Singapore community and because of that, it's very important to get a measure of what their feelings are.

"SG50 is a celebratory year and the question is: What are we celebrating? I know that every artist who is working on the ground is searching for a Singaporean ideal, whatever that is. So I'm interested in these multiple voices.

"I'm also looking forward to the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2015 because I think it will be a challenge to return this year with more Singaporean works.

"International productions are much loved by audiences because, generally, a lot of them see local productions throughout the year, so during festival time, they want international work. I'm curious to see what the response will be like.

"I think my sense of the overall arts scene is that there's always a healthy level of activity, but quantity is not necessarily quality.

"All of us arts groups have to deal with our own internal pressures, the pressure of having to perform, key performance indicators (KPI) and all that. I hope we can all turn that around, so that we can actually control our KPIs rather than have the KPIs controlling us.

"I would also like to see more care and intimacy brought into the arts, so it's not just about mass numbers. For example, I want to see fewer school assembly plays and more forum conversations and dialogues in smaller groups.

"I must say that there's a certain tiredness in Singapore right now. Singapore is a bit of a jaded woman or a cynical man. For me, the question is how do we get past this malaise?"

Music

Dr Edmund Lam, 54, chief executive officer and director of Composers And Authors Society Of Singapore (Compass)

"There will be a mix of challenges and opportunities for the music industry this year.

"Globally, the distribution of creative works is rapidly shifting from physical to digital. This transformation will be almost complete this year.

"Our challenge is to promote businesses that require digital players to fairly remunerate songwriters, publishers and record labels for the use of their creative works.

"Regionally, rising Asian giants such as China and Indonesia have the biggest untapped music markets in the world, and are where Singaporean artists have a potential to do well.

"I also hope our Government or one of the ASEAN states will take the lead to provide the catalyst to establish a regional music market within the ASEAN Free Trade Area, which will come into full effect this year.

"The theme for the local music industry this year is undoubtedly nostalgia. There is palpable pent-up demand for our veteran bands and artists to return to the stage to celebrate our music of yesteryear.

"One of the highlights and probably the biggest event will be the Sing50 mega concert organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times to showcase our 50 years of music.

"SG50 is also about looking forward. The Gift Of Song competition organised by MediaCorp with Compass' partnership will let Singaporeans choose a winning song that can represent their aspirations and hopes and, most importantly, be a song they love to sing.

"Amid all the buzz this year, my only wish is that the momentum for the music industry will continue in the coming years and not suffer a deep plunge into the abyss after the euphoria of SG50 festivities is long gone."

Travel

Mr Choe Peng Sum, 54, chief executive of Frasers Hospitality, a home-grown brand with 92 properties in 49 cities worldwide

"2014 was a strong year.

"Although there was radicalism in the Middle East, trouble in the Ukraine and currency woes in Russia, the year saw continued growth in business and leisure travel globally.

"Overall global travel spending is expected to grow 8.5 per cent this year and corporate travel spending is expected to post higher growth.

"There will always be the uncertainty of natural disasters, global pandemics, terrorist attacks or economic slowdowns that could affect global travel and relocation, but the forecasts are for increasing growth this year for our industry.

"Destinations that would see the most spending growth are the emerging markets such as China, where a 17.8 per cent growth is forecast for this year.

"India continues to be strong, while economic recovery in the United States is gaining traction.

"There is no doubt that in this world of ever-evolving Internet technology, social media and networking, shared reviews and experiences are the new forces driving the market.

"Companies need to be prepared to invest in leapfrogging technology to stay nimble, responsive and relevant in this rapidly changing, technology-driven landscape.

"Technology and new booking patterns have also given rise to websites that cater to alternative accommodation rather than chain hotels.

"As in all competition, this cannot be overlooked and is something that the hospitality industry needs to contend with.

"It is up to established industry players to continue to make themselves relevant to the needs of different travellers as it is differentiation, through distinct branding, that will help customers sort through the melee of choices.

"The fastest-growing segment of travellers is the Millennial traveller aged between 28 and 40, a segment which accounts for about 30 per cent of US business travellers today and will reach 50 per cent by 2020.

"These Millennials spend 13 per cent more a trip compared with the average traveller and this group also has very different requirements from other travellers.

"Seamless connectivity is a given for them, but also evident is their concern and focus on health and wellness."

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