“Visitors to the future National Art Gallery, Singapore can expect not just to view art, but can also watch films or create their own versions of exhibits” (Get Sneak Preview Of Art Appreciation Centre, Miss Rachel Chan).
I applaud the excellent proposals made by the National Art Gallery, as highlighted in the report “Get Sneak Preview Of Art-Appreciation Centre” (April 9, 2010) by Miss Rachel Chan, which would certainly go a long way towards increasing the levels of art appreciation in Singapore: especially amongst students and young Singaporeans. At the same time, the efforts also highlight the dearth of concerted movements in our country targeted at heightening awareness of an assortment of artistic and cultural aspects on the educational and societal platforms.
Nevertheless, it is not hard to comprehend the low importance and priority given to art appreciation and education, given the relative emphasis given to academic pursuits and co-curricular commitments. Pragmatically and realistically, parents and students generally have not seen the need to visit museums and indulge in a field that yields no tangible takeaways. On the ground – at least between the common man – art is perceived as being overly niche that is inaccessible to novices who do not have prior knowledge or education in the area. Therefore, in addition to the current efforts to reach out to the younger ones, specialised introductory programmes should be catered for the general populace to generate initial interest and sustained appreciation towards art in Singapore.
There are a few ways the aforementioned can be achieved or enhanced.
Bring parents and children together for art appreciation initiatives. The home is the best starting point for education in art. Since many parents themselves are not well-versed in art appreciation, joint programmes could go a long way in family bonding and increasing comprehension.
Enhance and increase involvement in institutions. There have been many events and festivals organised; hence, the National Arts Council (NAC) could consider encouraging respective art clubs and programmes to build up events from the school-level. Coordinated events would heighten both breadth and depth of approaches
Expose individuals to digital art pieces. Dispelling the idea that art pieces are merely physical presentations, the tech-savvy generation can be attracted to digital art pieces they might be able to better connect with.
Make active use of the Internet for promotion and awareness. With the advent of the Internet and technology, and the assortment of online mediums, they can be used to reach out to a greater audience.
Highlight the uniqueness of Singaporean culture and art. Certainly, to differentiate from the multitude of art that is present all around the world; showcase the specialities and distinctiveness of Singaporean art.
Art might not bring about immediate benefits, but the takeaways can only be determined by an individual’s willingness and receptivity towards the art pieces and installations. As areas of knowledge and education diversify, and the fields of specialisation open up for students, Singapore might have much to gain if it begins to increase the standards of art appreciation for its citizens in time to come.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.