Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, Baey Yam Keng, in parliament on Wednesday (25 March), urged the arts community to make use of a digital-based presentation for their artworks and productions so that they can continue to engage audiences amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Previously on 27 February, Nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Terence Ho raised questions on the government’s measures to ensure the safety and welfare of participants in the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2020 and whether there are proposed plans to support the arts community for the annual festival.
In response to the questions, Mr Baey said the SIFA 2020 will not be staged as planned on 15 to 31 May this year due to the global restrictions on travel and the recent measures put forth by the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was not a decision taken lightly, but was made because global restrictions on travel, together with our own precautionary and safe distancing measures to reduce local transmission of COVID-19, would have a significant impact on the overall festival experience,” he noted.
Mr Baey said the National Arts Council (NAC) will work with Arts House Limited (AHL) as well as local arts groups involved in SIFA 2020 – Nine Years Theatre, The Finger Players, The Necessary Stage and Toy Factory Productions – to explore how they can offer innovative arts and culture experience in the coming months.
This includes webcasts, behind-the-scenes profiling as well as digital conversations.
“I encourage the arts community to likewise explore digital-based presentations of their work, so that they can continue to engage existing audiences, and develop new audiences, even in the current situation,” said Mr Baey, as he mentioned the Singapore Chinese Orchestra made available its ‘Dabao’ digital concert series on Facebook.
NAC is also engaging potential partners to explore ways to support the online presentation of artworks and productions by the arts community. He then urged people with the capability of doing an online presentation to support others who have no experience and proficiency.
He reiterated that the Stabilisation and Support Package announced at Budget 2020 also includes support for arts practitioners in this time of crisis, adding that the Ministry of Finance has given the notice to table a Supplementary Supply Bill for Singaporeans and the NAC has been engaging with the arts community on the measures.
“For instance, the Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA) which will help organisations and individuals upskill their capabilities and position themselves well for the post COVID-19 recovery,” Mr Baey remarked.