The arts scene - through the players' eyes -lifestyle

The arts scene - through the players' eyes -lifestyle
Professor Tommy Koh, editor Renee Lee and Dr Rick Lee at yesterday’s launch of Art Hats In Renaissance City, a book on the development of Singapore’s increasingly vibrant arts scene.

Four generations of arts personalities have contributed their views on the growth of the local arts scene to a new book.

In Art Hats In Renaissance City, artists, arts managers and academics share their reflections on the development of the arts in essays and interviews. They include Esplanade chief executive Benson Puah, Asian Civilisations Museum director Alan Chong and Pangdemonium! co-artistic director Adrian Pang.

The book, launched yesterday at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa), was conceived in response to the lack of published information on the development of Singapore's increasingly vibrant arts scene.

Editor Renee Lee, who initiated the project and is a part-time teacher at Nafa, said: "It started off with a module on the Singapore arts scene. Students didn't have access to any resources about it, so I decided to compile this anthology.

"I wanted it to be more than esoteric numbers and statistics. I wanted readers to know what it meant to work in the arts."

Art Hats took two years to compile and edit, almost entirely by Ms Lee, who received a National Arts Council grant to produce it. The 336-page book costs $58 at all major bookstores.

The hardcover book is divided into four sections: Leaders; Curators, Critics and Historians; Artists and Practitioners; and Academicians. The essays and interviews from more than 30 contributors cover multiple aspects of the arts - from cultural diplomacy to the use of art therapy in Singapore.

Professor Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also contributed to the book.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Prof Koh, who chaired the National Heritage Board from 2002 to 2011, said: "Singaporeans used to be very indifferent towards the arts. I think a lot of the cultural vibrancy we see today is due to government policy. We realised we had not done enough, so we had to make a change.

"We have made more progress in this sector than anyone could have imagined 20 years ago. The future of culture and the arts in Singapore is a bright one."

This article was first published on June 27, 2015.
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