New Framework for Arts Spaces

National Arts Council,
22 December 2010, Singapore

The National Arts Council (NAC) announced today a new framework for Arts Spaces to support the development needs of a growing and increasingly diverse arts sector, including new and emerging artists and arts groups. The arts spaces and facilities that are developed under this Framework will also serve as platforms where artists and arts groups can collaborate with each other, and interact with the wider public to bring the arts to the surrounding communities.  This new framework will be piloted with the NAC’s new Goodman Arts Centre in 2011, which has been redeveloped to include some 36 new shared facilities for hire and 49 spaces for lease to artists and arts groups.   

The Need for Change

The Arts Housing Scheme (AHS) was first introduced in 1985 to provide artists a home within which to develop their activities and thereby help foster a cultural vibrant society. Today, NAC operates 43 properties under the Scheme, comprising 5 multi-tenanted arts centres, 36 single-tenanted buildings and 2 co-located spaces in community buildings. These spaces have benefitted 135 artists and arts groups over the last 10 years in their artistic development, including the current 68 arts groups and 28 artists. 

However, the arts landscape has evolved tremendously in the last 25 years. From 2000-2009 alone, some 520 new arts companies and societies were formed. Feedback gathered showed that the current properties and Scheme were no longer adequate in meeting the needs of new and developing artists and arts groups, as well as the changing needs of some established arts groups as they seek to deepen their artistic contributions and expand their outreach. In addition, new working arrangements of artists and arts groups and new types of spaces in creative clusters or community facilities have also emerged. These present interesting opportunities for NAC and the arts sector to partner commercial or community stakeholders in developing new infrastructure solutions that will enable the arts to have wider impact.

With these in mind, NAC therefore embarked on a fundamental review of the AHS at the start of 2010. The process of review included extensive consultations with stakeholders from the people, public and private sectors over a period of 12 months. The Council held workshops and feedback sessions with over 120 artists and arts groups to understand the inefficiencies of the AHS, the needs of the sector, and to seek insights on how it could be improved or better designed to optimise use and relevance for both arts practitioners and the community. During these sessions, NAC also presented its initial findings and preliminary ideas to get ground sentiments. These responses and the ideas surfaced were critical in shaping the subsequent recommendations that led to the development of the new framework in place of the AHS.