Singaporeans to be engaged to suggest nominees for next UNESCO inscription: Low Yen Ling

·4-min read
(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — Following hawker culture's inscription into UNESCO's list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last December, Singaporeans will be engaged to identify potential nominees for future inscription.

A series of focus group sessions with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds – including academics, heritage experts, practitioners and youths – will be conducted by the National Heritage Board (NHB) this year to identify possible elements.

Following the focus group sessions, Singaporeans will also be invited to share their feedback on the shortlist of potential elements for nomination.

"We are indeed proud of our cultural assets, and want to share these with the world. To this end, we will widen our search to put up other aspects of our cultural heritage for UNESCO nomination," Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, said during her ministry's Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Monday (8 March).

"I invite all Singaporeans to actively contribute their ideas and suggestions to NHB."

In the meantime, NHB will continue to partner community organisations, educational institutions and the private sector to showcase Singapore’s hawker culture through festivals, exhibitions and programmes at museums and heritage institutions.

It has supported documentation projects, such as a study by the Singapore Heritage Society on how Singapore's hawker culture has evolved from past to present in terms of culinary traditions and changing landscapes.

Several museums to reopen in the coming years

Several museums in Singapore will be reopened in the coming years, with new content and improved visitor experiences to encourage a museum-going culture.

The Changi Chapel and Museum and the Reflections at Bukit Chandu, two important World War II interpretative centres, will reopen in mid-2021 and in the second half of 2021 respectively.

These two centres have undergone necessary upgrading works in the past two years, to address wear and tear over more than 15 years of operation. With the redevelopment, visitors can look forward to refreshed content and offerings on the respective WWII stories highlighted at each centres.

Next year, the Singapore Philatelic Museum will reopen as Singapore’s first dedicated children’s museum. Families and young children can look forward to interactive exhibits, anchored in rich storytelling and complemented by engaging programmes and initiatives.

The Peranakan Museum is targeted to reopen in the first quarter of 2023 with refreshed content that will explore the cross-cultural traditional arts of Peranakan communities in Southeast Asia. The museum had consulted academics and community groups including The Peranakan Association Singapore, Peranakan Indian (Chitty Melaka) Association Singapore, Arab Network@Singapore, and Eurasian Association for the redevelopment.

Meanwhile, the Malay Heritage Centre will be closed for redevelopment from early 2022 for restoration works in Istana Kampong Glam. The redevelopment will include a refresh of the content in the centre's permanent galleries to incorporate new research findings about the diverse Malay community and the Kampong Glam precinct.

In the coming years, a series of restoration projects will be carried out for monuments completed in the mid- to late-19th century. This will ensure that these structures continue to stand strong for future generations.

The monuments are the former Istana Kampong Glam, the main building of the Istana, the National Museum of Singapore, and the former Empress Place Building (currently the Asian Civilisations Museum).

"Before Covid-19, our museums achieved a record high visitorship of close to 9.6 million in 2019," Low said.

"Although the ongoing pandemic has changed the dynamics of visitorship, we are pressing on with new plans to draw participation and expanding audiences through virtual platforms."

$20 million enhancement to Arts and Culture Resilience Package

During the Parliament COS debate, Tong announced a $20 million enhancement of the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) to continue MCCY's support for arts groups and artists amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This brings the total amount for support measures rolled out under the ACRP to $75 million.

The enhancement will cover the following new grants and extensions to existing schemes.

  • Self-Employed Person (SEP) Grant for arts and culture freelancers to collaborate on projects

  • Business Transformation Fund (BTF) to support the transformation of arts and culture organisations to be more efficient and sustainable.

  • Extension of ACRP Operating Grant to help key organisations in the arts and related sectors defray their operating costs.

  • Extension of the 80 per cent Venue Hire Subsidy until June.

MCCY will be working with the Ministry of Finance to conduct a review of the Cultural Matching Fund (CMF), towards an additional top-up of the fund, which was established in 2013 to provide dollar-for-dollar matching for private cash donations to eligible arts and heritage charities.

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