BEDA #15: One does not simply run an Arts Business…

Like a normal business.

I was welcomed by a Facebook note by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Janice Koh as I got to the office on Friday and since it was speaking about the recent announcements of increasing budgets for the Arts community in Singapore, I thought I could share my two cents’ worth here.

What struck out the most from her note – the topic of decentralization. She felt that the state should start going to the direction of a more “hands-off” approach and focus more on overall policy instead. This will then lead to a higher variety of Arts Businesses, especially if they get the independence to pursue different focuses and direction.

To sum up what I think – I agree.

From as far as I could remember, the state has been striving to be top in almost every field you could possibly think of.

Unfortunately, striving to be a city known to have a great arts and culture field hardly has a model to follow. Singapore is, without a doubt, one of the most competitive countries in the world. No joke about that, even calls for submissions in creative works and collections has to be a competition where only theTOPgets promoted and featured.

I’ve blogged about the possibility of collaborations within a single piece of work and people who have read it told me (offline) that it was going to pose one problem – revenue. While it was agreed that collaborations will provide more opportunities for portfolios and promotion, every artist would have the same concern – they needed to pay their bills.

So I do see the potential in the emergence of more Arts businesses because the Arts is anything but homogenous – if you believed in producing a certain kind of art, you could have the choice of a certain kind of Art House. At the moment that’s what we’re pretty much lacking – options. Sure, we could head overseas but firstly, where shall we get the funds? And secondly, would it not be better if our art can be identified as homegrown?

It discourages me greatly that right now, many have the thinking (myself included) that you had to prove yourself overseas before being even cast an glance here. It was once said Singapore’s publishing and literature had to be marketed overseas because Singapore had such a small audience.

Taking that into consideration, won’t a variety of Arts Houses present a larger scope of exposure? Most people understand that Singapore, on its own, has a very small (and I could probably go further and say niche) audience. With that in mind, will that not push our local artists to go beyond and do better?

I’ve said before – everyone has a latent ability and gift that is shown through their personalities and their expressions. Who are we to brush “undiscovered” names aside for the “established”, “guaranteed” names?

We may have different levels of uptake, but as long as we’re not shutting things out, everyone in the industry deserves a fighting chance.

Note: I will probably post a few things I hope to suggest/ see in the local Arts industry for BEDA so stay tuned!

The Arts Industry should be respected as much as ANY industry.

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