Working hand in hand with the private sector, NAC aims to catalyse arts patronage to small arts organisations, helping them develop quality programmes and plan for long-term sustainability.
Singapore, 13 January 2021 – The National Arts Council (NAC) and the private sector have joined hands to kick off the Sustain the Arts (stART) Fund initiative, which aims to give small arts organisations a head start towards long-term sustainability. Close to $ 4 million has been raised to date, which will include the Cultural Matching Fund’s dollar-for-dollar matching of private cash donations to registered charities in the arts and heritage sector. First announced in March 2020, the official launch for the stART Fund was livestreamed and held in an event with a live audience of 50 this afternoon, with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Mr Edwin Tong, as the Guest of Honour, alongside donors and beneficiaries. To date, close to 20 arts groups have benefited from the Fund, with each receiving a quantum of between $20,000 and $50,000.
From the generous contributions of companies and individuals in the private sector, the stART Fund will boost small arts groups' efforts towards establishing robust governance structures and support impactful programmes that add to Singapore’s diverse arts landscape. Beyond financial support, the Fund also provides capability development opportunities for beneficiaries, equipping them with valuable skill sets such as fund-raising, and knowledge to build a self-sustaining future.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Mr. Edwin Tong shared, “The stART Fund is an important new initiative to help our arts community bring their work to as many Singaporeans as possible. By supporting the longer-term sustainability of small arts groups which add diversity and inclusivity to our arts landscape, the Fund encourages and showcases the shared ownership of our arts and culture between the public, private and people sector. This is a critical element of a vibrant arts ecosystem in Singapore.”
The launch event at Victoria Theatre this afternoon featured a mix of digital and live presentations, including live performance by cellist from Concordia Quartet and member of re:Sound, Theophilus Tan, in a solo piece titled A Musical Offering; Resound Collective Limited is one of the Fund’s beneficiaries for organisational funding.
Helping arts groups plan long-term sustainability
Short-term organisational funding is a key facet of the stART Fund, as it is aimed at supporting small arts groups working towards a Charity or Institution of Public Character (IPC) status. Offered to eligible beneficiaries registered under either the Commissioner of Charities (COC), Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or the Registry of Societies (ROS), attaining a Charity or IPC status goes a long way in helping art groups diversify income sources beyond Government grants. The Fund also aims to enable arts groups to enhance their organisational structures, improve board governance and ramp up internationalisation efforts.
For instance, in November 2020, 50 participants including stART Fund recipient organisations participated in capability development initiatives covering data management and analytics, impact reporting, fundraising and donor stewardship. These included the “From Aspiration to Governance (A to G)” workshop co-organised by NAC and the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership (CNPL), as well as LASALLE College of the Arts’ first online “Fundraising for Impact: What’s The Plan” workshop.
This year, NAC is also developing an Impact Assessment Framework for all stART beneficiaries which can be used as a tool to measure the social and economic impact of the stART Fund, and promote effective communication of the beneficiaries’ progress or impact of their work to donors. Impact Study Clinic sessions will also be designed to guide beneficiaries on best practices for donor reporting and stewardship.
Traditional Asian puppetry and theatre company, Paper Monkey Theatre Ltd, is an example of a beneficiary working towards an IPC status with support from the Fund. “Attaining an IPC status would be a very significant milestone for us,” said their Artistic Director, Paper Monkey Theatre Ltd, Mr Benjamin Ho. “Our mission has always been to provide a unique theatre experience that spotlights our culture and values through traditional Asian puppetry. With aid from the stART Fund, gaining this recognition will help Paper Monkey to have a visible presence to further cultivate a love for this artform among future generations, enabling us to carry out initiatives like online fundraising, and to build on our communication channels with our stakeholders and the public.”
Championing the works and programmes of emerging arts groups
The Fund also provides support to encourage the production of quality works that contribute to the vibrancy of Singapore’s arts landscape. This includes programmes with a strong community impact that enable more people to enjoy the arts, programmes with digitally enhanced arts experiences, as well as programmes which encourage audiences to reflect on and celebrate Singapore’s cultural identity.
Founding Donor of the Fund, Tote Board, has pledged $2,000,000 to give a boost to small arts organisations and their pursuit of producing quality work, which, Tote Board believes will contribute to a robust and sustainable arts and culture sector in Singapore. Another Founding Donor is Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Dymon Asia Capital, Mr Danny Yong,
who has pledged $1,000,000 to the Fund, with the goal of helping emerging artists create and refine quality programmes which encourage arts inclusivity.
With the Dymon Asia Emerging Artists Award and the Yong Hon Kong Foundation Inclusive Arts Award, both funds aim to benefit inclusive programmes such as GROW by Superhero Me, a digitalisation effort that introduces a blended approach to inclusive arts training and honing artists’ craft for diverse audiences; and Maya Dance Theatre’s Diverse Abilities Dance Collective (DADC), which aims to enrich and empower persons with disabilities through community outreach with the arts.
“Art transcends boundaries, enabling us to speak a common language regardless of our background in Singapore. The arts play a vital role in stimulating our creativity, adding colour to our lives in subtle, yet powerful ways. This initiative will enable arts organisations and professionals to hone their craft and flourish, ensuring our arts ecosystem gets the continuity it needs in the years to come.” Mr Yong shared.
Building a cohesive and creative society through the arts
The spirit of giving to the arts not only supports the survival of our arts groups and strengthens their capabilities, but fosters a larger legacy of growing our nation’s cultural scene; inspiring our people, deepening connections between communities and cultivating a sense of collective pride amongst Singaporeans.
“While reputable names of larger arts groups are easily recognisable, we must not forget the value that small entities bring to the table,” said the Chair of the stART Fund Committee, Mr Pierre Lorinet. “Singapore’s rich ecosystem thrives with small arts organisations as its cornerstone. Even as emerging artists continue to make strides and contribute to the diverse arts scene, the pandemic has made it even more apparent that this is not something they can do alone. It takes collective action to sustain and grow Singapore’s arts, and this is why the stART Fund exists.”
Members of the public are welcome to tune in online to the event which will be livestreamed on NAC’s Facebook and YouTube channels from 3pm to 5pm, and join in the conversation with #stARTFundSG. More information on the stART Fund is available at https://www.nac.gov.sg/start.
Please refer to the following Annexes for more information:
Annex A – List of stART Fund beneficiaries
Annex B – stART Fund capability development initiatives