Stay tuned for more thrills and spills

Singer Madonna performs during her concert at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, December 9, 2015, on her Rebel Heart Tour.
PHOTO: Reuters

The Golden Jubilee and the big-bang arts and entertainment events it inspired may be over, but there is still much to look forward to this year, including possibly queen of pop Madonna's first concert in Singapore.

Equally, expect the recent debates over censorship and the politics of state funding of the arts to continue as conservative and liberal factions here make their voices heard. Amid the debate, the National Arts Council chairman has said that it has to balance diverse values when giving grants to artists.

The arts council is expected to release by April a list of grant recipients for the upcoming financial year. Arts groups and institutions are waiting to see if any one of their number has its funding cut for producing works that are counter-cultural or disparage the Government, as has happened in the past.

In the entertainment arena, Madonna may or may not join other envelope-pushing acts staging shows here such as Mandopop diva A-Mei and comedian Margaret Cho.

Madonna was banned from performing here in 1993 when police said her performances in the Girlie Show World Tour "border on the obscene... (and are) known to be objectionable to many on moral and religious grounds". It is still not known if her Rebel Heart Tour, which is coming to this region, will make a stop here.

Cho, who has advocated the rights of sex workers and spoken openly about having been one, plays her first show in Asia at Kallang Theatre on March 5. Children below 16 years old will not be admitted.

There is no such age restriction for A-Mei's ticketed concert at the National Stadium on Saturday, part of her aMEI/AMIT Utopia World Tour, though she was prohibited from singing Rainbow, a song about gay relationships, at the outdoor Spring Wave Music And Art Festival here two years ago.

Movie-goers still high on the recent launch of the latest and long-awaited Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, have at least two blockbusters to cheer about. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice will be released internationally in March. The first movie in a trilogy penned by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling - Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them - will premiere in November.

Home-grown filmmakers will be hard pressed to match last year's bumper crop of 20 films, but about 15 releases are expected, including Michelle Chong's comedy Lulu The Movie, based on one of the actress-director's popular characters in The Noose, and Eric Khoo's short film Wanton Mee.

In the arts, the visual arts will continue to stake a prominent position following the opening last November of the expansive National Gallery Singapore, home to the world's largest public collection of South-east Asian art. The Gallery hopes to draw viewers this year with pedigreed exhibitions such as a survey of modernist art from both East and West, curated together with France's Centre Pompidou, and a collaboration with Tate Britain looking at art and the British empire.

In October, the Singapore Biennale returns to put contemporary art from the region and elsewhere in the spotlight. This four- month-long showcase is organised by the Singapore Art Museum.

For lovers of the performing arts, a highlight will be the revival later this year of Wild Rice's Hotel, a five-hour pointed, yet moving, take on Singapore history which received rave reviews at the Singapore International Festival of Arts last August. There will also be a rare, full-length staging of a Richard Wagner opera, co-directed by theatre heavyweights Chong Tze Chien and Glen Goei.

Finally, arts insiders will be watching developments at two key institutions in a state of flux.

The Singapore Art Museum will embark on a search for a new director following the announcement of outgoing head Susie Lingham's resignation, while independent arts centre The Substation, under new artistic director Alan Oei, embarks on a long-awaited reboot to give it fresh relevance to artists, intellectuals and creative professionals of all stripes.

This article was first published on Jan 3, 2016.
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