The LA Times’s Dustin Roasa goes to Singapore to document a trend that’s already familiar, the city state’s “an enormous effort to reposition itself as an international arts hub in an effort to boost its international status and attract global capital and talent.”
Roasa takes a different tack, though, by looking at a group of performance artists who went from pariahs to pillars of the community effort to build cultural capital:
To that end, the government spent nearly $1.5 billion on art and culture from 2005 to 2010, one of the highest per capita rates in the world. State funding has supported a range of projects, including the $460-million Esplanade, a shimmering waterfront performance complex that hosts everything from Chinese chamber music to indie rock; the planned National Art Gallery, which will house the world’s largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art when it opens in 2015; and small grants for artists and galleries.
The city that novelist William Gibson described in a 1993 Wired essay as “Disneyland with the death penalty” now puts on a biennial that attracts international talent and has an arts infrastructure that would be the envy of most cities. On any given weekend, Singapore buzzes with dozens of openings, performances and festivals, helping it to emerge as a credible rival to Hong Kong as a leading center of regional art.
Cultural Exchange: Singapore embraces art to enhance its image (Los Angeles Times)