As I am wrapping up my graduate career at the University of Nevada, Reno, I am reflecting on many of the great opportunities I have had to study in foreign countries through an amazing program the school offers, Nevada Global Business. In January 2017, I was able to travel to Singapore as part of the program. While I was there, I had the chance to visit museums and experience the heavy influence of art and culture on Singapore’s growing economic spirit.
In just over the last 50 years, Singapore has experienced a sharp increase in economic vitality, moving from a small fishing village to a major metropolis. Arts and culture play a vital role in economic stimulation and the influence of art on the growing Singaporean economy has been no exception. As Singapore is positioning itself for continued economic growth, much thought is being put into how to the country can strategically impact the economy through the fine arts. Through various initiatives bringing fine art from all over the world to the country, Singapore is being brought to the global stage as an epicenter for arts and culture.
The Singaporean government is working closely with the art community by creating new museums and renovating existing ones in order to spur economic development. With so much investment being poured into the art community, Singapore is enjoying a fast rising payback, with much attention being paid by the global community. The National Museum of Singapore, the nation’s oldest museum dating back to 1887, houses
a contemporary art gallery, and hosts various art installations from around the world. One such exhibition that I got to experience is “What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible,” on loan from the French Regional Collections of Contemporary Art, which exposes viewers to post-modern fine art with installations ranging from… to rooms full of ballo
ons that invite observers to interact with the installation. Exhibitions such as these are generally made available free of charge to Singaporeans.
Singapore also schedules a yearly art festival, with which sponsors hope to reinforce the emergence of Singapore as a global art destination. Singapore Art Week is promoted by the National Arts Council, the Singapore Tourism Board, and the Singapore Economic Development Board. The founder of this program, Lorenzo Rudolf says, “If Singapore understands that it should not act as a closed national scene but also as an open cultural hub, embracing the best of the entire region and having all forces cooperate and support one another, then I think the future belongs to it. All the ingredients are here, we just have to put them together in the right way. Singapore, as an international city, has all the chances to become a global hub but only if it functions globally – that would be its formula to success. We have to understand contemporary art as a global language; we should not be afraid of leaving the warm nest, and artistically interact and compete with the world. That also means that as a region, we have to support one another in a much stronger way, demonstrating a strong and united region and market to the rest of the art world.” Singapore Art Week is scheduled every year in January and offers a vast amount of programs across the city-state. However, art and culture are present everywhere and in everything in Singapore. From the Supertree Groves at the Gardens by the Bay to the beauty in the architecture throughout the city, Singapore shines as an arts haven.
If you are able to travel as part of a class, or on your own, I can’t recommend enough for you to do so. Travel changes you and gives you a deeper understanding of the world, which is what artists try to accomplish with their works. Where have you travelled, and what arts and cultures have you experienced, that have left a lasting impression on your life? Leave a comment below to let me know!