Independent Curator, and PhD Candidate, Monash University
State funding is prevailing in Singapore, a situation that implies strong financial support for art institutions, individual artists, and periodical events, amongst others. Since the establishment of the National Arts Council in 1991, state funding has framed the conditions of the development of the arts in Singapore through specific conditions of eligibility, assessment process, and evaluation for grant applicants and receivers, which correspond to national priorities and the nation’s vision for the arts. While state funding tends to be called into question in direct cases of restriction over content and distribution through withdrawal of grants, this paper will investigate more subtle forms of control. Based on an analysis of the grant framework and interviews with Singapore-based artists, this paper will look into what is at stake for meeting funding conditions, and how this process impacts upon the early stages of a project’s conception or the later stages of a project’s development once a grant is awarded. The paper will foreground the recent activities of several artists and independent art spaces – for example, the collaborative project softwallstuds – to develop alternative forms of funding for their activities, such as communal support and membership schemes.
Anca Rujoiu is a curator based in Singapore. She is a PhD candidate at Monash University in Melbourne pursuing research focused on artist-run initiatives in Southeast Asia. Rujoiu was curator of exhibitions and later head of publications (2013-2018) at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore.