While many people know Singapore as a tourist location and a shopping paradise, most conveniently miss the beat about Singaporean’s government efforts to position the nation state as a cultural icon in the region. Singapore is a melting port of multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic group of people living together. Singapore is basically populated by second and third generation immigrants from around Asia, and has a steady flock of foreigners in the country. This blend of population gives rise to the distinctive flavor of the Singaporean culture. Hence, Singapore Season has launched with a concept of a cultural diplomacy effort to position Singapore as a multicultural global city that is good to live, work and play. Furthermore, it is also meant to contribute to the growth of Singapore creative industry by promoting and showcasing Singapore’s creative talents to the world.
The whole concept of the Singapore Season is not just about encouraging creativity and showcasing talent. It has the parallel multiplier effect of encouraging tourism, developing healthcare and manufacturing sectors, and stimulating the demand for arts, design and media products. Whilst a strong economy feeds the body, a living environment inspired by arts and creativity feeds the soul. To take it a step further, this creative vibrancy can help spring new business ideas ? turning creativity into tangible economic results.
The inaugural Singapore Season was held in 2005 and spanned six weeks. Singapore Season in London consisted of performances by Singapore arts group and artistes at key arts venues and events. The strong nation state flavor was spiced by names like Singapore Evening, the Singapore Season Film Week and the Singapore Food Festival and the Singapore Conference. The most laudable effort is the Singapore Conference, which provided participants opportunities to interact with a panel of prominent Singapore industrialists and government representatives to discuss Singapore’s latest developments and new opportunities for Asia-Europe collaborations.
The event got very strong support from government and private bodies including, The Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Economic Development Board, International Enterprise Singapore, The British Council and various other parties. These partnerships point to one direction, introducing the vibrancy of Singaporean lifestyle to the British community, and hoping this would materialize collaborations from a political, cultural, socio-economic, civic society standpoint.
To quote Mr Ko Kheng Hwa, Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board, “The Singapore Economic Development Board is happy to support the Singapore Season in London as it will showcase Singapore as more than an excellent business location ....that we have a vibrant arts and cultural milieu with creativity and new ideas that make Singapore a great place to live and work. This in turn will also enhance Singapore's attractiveness as hub for global business."
Singapore Season in London was generally considered a successful event. It touched on the key elements of the cultural context of Singapore ? the arts, the music, the dance, the theatrical and local films, and also the food, creating opportunities to raise awareness of Singapore’s arts and cultural talents to the London audience. Two stellar examples of this success are T’ang Quartet and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. T’ang Quartet invited in 2006 and Singapore Chinese Orchestra invited to perform at at Gateshead, Newcastle, UK. in 2008 for the performance. The T’ang Quartet was established to extend the appreciation of classical music to a larger audience, as well as setting new standards of artistic achievement. Having marketed themselves as a ‘boy band’ of the classics, they have established a huge fan base and opened up their music to young audiences. T’ang won many prestigious awards in the US, Europe and Asia. They tour internationally and have a special affiliation with the Tanglewood Festival in America.
In a nutshell, the programs in Singapore Season 2005 in London:
TheatreWorks @ ICA, Institute of Contemporary Arts
Singapore Food Festivals @ Swissotel The Howard & various venues in London
Singapore Conference @ The Millennium Hotel London Mayfair (government representatives & industrialists discussion on Singapore’s latest corporate developments & opportunities)
Singapore Evening ? performances by the best Singaporean creative talents
Arts events ? Singapore Season Film Week, Singapore Dance Theatre, T’ang Quartet performance & The Singapore Chinese Orchestra
Hence, it is no surprise that the same concept would be repeated in 2007, particularly in China. Economic and socio-cultural exchanges between China and Singapore continuously have increased. Now, China is Singapore’s fourth largest trading partner and top foreign investment destination. The economic cooperation between two countries is expected to increase further. Similarly, the cultural exchange and co-operation between two countries have also increased since the Singapore-China Cultural Agreement was signed in 2006. The second Singapore Season is going to focus on presenting Singapore in a holistic manner to China for closer understanding between China and Singapore.
Singapore Season in China 2007 will run over one month from 12 Oct to 10 Nov 2007, beginning in Beijing, followed by Shanghai. It features a line-up of music, theatre, art, dance, literary events and the first Singapore Film Festival in China. Art group and performers who are going to perform for this Season are the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Dance Theater, Drama Box and pop singer JJ Lin. The arts programs will be presented in conjunction with two of China's most prestigious international arts events - the Beijing Music Festival and the China Shanghai International Arts Festival.
This year’s Singapore Season in China is also expected to play the role generating higher brand profile of Singapore companies operating in China and vice versa. Reflecting this effort, business programs are also included in this Singapore Season. One of them is the Singapore Seminar, held to draw Chinese businessmen to Singapore by providing them with an update on the latest corporate developments in Singapore. The other is a China-Singapore Media Business Forum, which is designed to foster business collaborations between media industry players from both countries.
Singapore Season is a series of events to raise awareness of Singapore as a multi-cultural global city and a good place to live, work and play in a way to contribute to the growth of Singapore creative industry. In total, 14 government agencies including the Singapore Tourism Board and Contact Singapore and other private organizations are involved in the marketing efforts of this important event and Singapore Season is Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong patrons it. While doing research about Singapore Season, it was very impressive that Singapore government try to integrate every their effort into social stability and its economic growth with specific strategies and targets.