Singapore: An Art Hub?
Singapore’s fledgling art scene may finally be taking off.
A flurry of events this year have generated buzz and drawn crowds to the city-state. January’s inaugural Art Stage, with exhibits from Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, attracted 32,000 fee-paying attendees. The Singapore Biennale drew a record-breaking 913,000 viewers. And come 2015, a 60,000-square-meter National Art Gallery, which is slated to be the largest visual arts venue in Singapore, will be opened to house such events.
“In the area of visual art, Singapore has made tremendous progress,” says Tan Boon Hui, director of the Singapore Art Museum. “There has been a suite of platforms and showcases that have helped put Singapore prominently on the international art scene.”
Much of this is due to a strong state-led effort to promote Singapore as a regional arts hub. Art Stage, which returns next year, was backed by government agencies like the Singapore Tourism Board and the Economic Development Board, a government body that seeks to draw investment to the city-state. Eugene Tan, a director at the board and a former director at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, curated the local art offerings at Art Stage. Meanwhile, the Singapore Biennale, which was organized by the Singapore Art Museum, had its 6 million Singapore dollar (about US$4.9 million) budget largely funded by the government.