Local arts groups to get $12.7m

Painter and curator Alan Oei, 38, sent a despondent ripple through the arts scene last November when he announced that the popular annual art walk he created, OH! Open House, would take an indefinite break due to a lack of funding.

Thanks to a $150,000 Seed Grant from the National Arts Council (NAC), the bespoke art tours around local neighbourhoods will continue.

The NAC announced yesterday in a press statement that 23 emerging companies, including Mr Oei's outfit, will get Seed Grants this year.

Another 36 companies will receive funding under the council's Major Grant scheme, a three-year scheme catering to long-term development and targeted at more established arts groups.

The NAC has committed $12.7 million to these schemes in total, a 25 per cent jump from the $10.2 million last year.

It said the funding reflects its "firm support to ground the overall development... of our established arts companies, at the same time, developing a diverse pool of artistic talents to build the next generation of art makers".

OH! Open House, which has drawn more than 5,000 participants since it started in 2009, is one of eight new Seed Grant recipients, along with theatre company Pangdemonium and Chinese opera troupe Nam Hwa Opera.

Mr Oei told The Straits Times this means a new lease of life for OH! Open House, which will continue for at least the next three years. He said: "It means instead of being this guerilla pop-up that appears and disappears, we can connect artists, houses and the audience all year round."

Its next walk is slated to take place early next year, and locations such as Geylang and Joo Chiat are being considered. Previous tours have taken visitors to homes in Marine Parade and Tiong Bahru, and offices in the Marina Bay Financial Centre.

One of the new Major Grant recipients is 12-year-old theatre company Checkpoint Theatre, which is known for nurturing young playwrights. It will get $170,000.

Other first-time recipients include Indian dance company Apsaras Art, which will receive $260,000. The Singapore Wind Symphony will get $100,000.

Conductor Adrian Tan, 37, music director of the Singapore Wind Symphony, said the financial boost will help the 35-year-old amateur music group professionalise.

He said: "We have been going on a strong track of promoting Singaporean composers and music. The funding will go towards that and support creating more commissions."


This article was published on April 1.

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