singapore funds heritage projects to promote its diverse cultural roots

$8 million will be given out over five years

Singapore’s National Heritage Board has implemented the Heritage Industry Incentive Programme to promote Singapore’s diverse culture and ethnic heritage. A fund of $8 million will be given out over the next five years to help finance the development of projects important for heritage.

Find out how some organisations such as the Art Retreat are planning to tap this fund.

NHB pours in S$8 million to develop heritage industry

A series of children’s books, a television series broadcast on the Internet and a heritage walk which includes visits to local pubs in Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

These are just some of the beneficiaries of the National Heritage Board’s (NHB’s) Heritage Industry Incentive Programme.

The programme will give out $8 million over the next five years to projects that promote Singapore’s diverse cultural and ethnic heritage.

Details of the programme were announced yesterday at the National Museum by Senior Minister of State for Education and Information, Communications and the Arts, Rear-Admiral Lui Tuck Yew, at The Business Of Heritage, Singapore’s first heritage industry conference.

Under this programme, the NHB will pay half the cost of an approved project, up to a maximum grant of $100,000.

The grants are available to applicants so long as their projects are heritage-related.

The board, says NHB chief executive officer Michael Koh, is on the lookout for fresh ideas ranging from new heritage tours to products such as board games with a strong heritage theme.

He adds, “The programme aims to be the tipping point for individuals and companies to embrace heritage as a business idea.

“The idea behind it is to grow the heritage ecosystem and raise the standards of the heritage industry.”

Last year, the board ran a pilot project with funding of $500,000 and picked 10 ideas to support.

Among them was a series of books by writer Adeline Foo – her publisher received about $57,000 for producing four children’s books highlighting various aspects of Peranakan culture.

The first two books, The Kitchen God and Beaded Slippers, have already sold more than 1,300 copies since their launch in June.

A third book, Chilli Padi, was launched yesterday. The books are also set to make their world debut at the Singapore Pavilion of the Frankfurt Book Fair next month.

Says Ms Foo, 37, “Finding this scheme has been a bonus. I am sure it will encourage more publishers to take on heritage-based projects.”

Mr Jeyathurai Ayadurai, 47, managing director of Journeys Tours & Travel Services, whose tours in Boat Quay and Clarke Quay were selected as part of the pilot, calls the programme a ‘very important initiative’.

“It is a very strong endorsement of the work being done by other heritage players,” he says.

He adds that while funding from corporate sponsors are important, support from the Government opens more doors for individual players such as his company.

Art Retreat, a private museum in the Ubi area, is another beneficiary of the pilot project.

The museum of modern Asian and European art also has a permanent gallery dedicated to the works of Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong.

Mr Teo Han Wue, 62, the museum’s executive director, says it received funding of $28,000 under the pilot programme.

He says, “For a private museum, support such as this is significant.

“Even though it covers only a part of the cost of mounting an exhibition, it can help in defraying costs such as that of printing a catalogue.”

Upcoming projects that will receive support include a 10-part documentary on pioneer artists such as Georgette Chen, Liu Kang and Chen Wen Hsi.

VeeV TV, which is part of Sky Media, has been given funding of about $100,000 to develop these interactive video documentaries which will be posted online.

Says Ms Lara Lai, 38, chief operating officer of VeeV TV, “Once developed, these documentaries will tell you a lot more than just about the life of the artist.

“We will offer various interactive features that will let you explore the artists’ works.”

Other entrepreneurs are already pitching ideas for funding.

The privately owned Mint Museum Of Toys, for instance, is working on developing mobile display cabinets to showcase some of its rich collection of toys in Singapore and beyond.

“We are also looking at publishing books on toys from Japan, Germany, Britain, the United States and China, all of which are countries with a rich toy-making history,” says Mr Chang Yang Fa, 59, chief executive officer of the Mint Museum Of Toys.

Ms Jennifer Loh and Ms Sumitra Pasupathy of Explorer Asia Holdings are planning to set up a children’s museum aimed at pre-schoolers.

Says Ms Pasupathy, 36, who has two boys aged four and two, “I think the programme is great and it will encourage more independent operators to come forward and realise their ideas.”

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