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My Research


In 2000, the Singapore Government launched its most ambitious cultural policy document, The Renaissance City Report (RCR). This report was both a cultural policy and an urban regeneration policy, insofar as its scope went far beyond the arts. This was an attempt to become a 'Global City for the Arts'. It was not the nation's first attempt to examine the role that the arts and culture could play in Singapore, both socially and economically, but it was a landmark document for the following three reasons.

The report:

  1. Recognised that despite an almost constant effort in the 1990s to create public interest in arts and culture in Singapore, there was still a lack of interest in the arts on behalf of the Singaporean citizenry.
  2. Articulated a strong and continued belief in the economic potential of the arts.
  3. Introduced the concept of 'benchmarking' both to assess performance and to construction an objective criterion for Singapore's quest to become a Global City for the Arts.

The RCR stated,

We should aim to reach a level of development that would be comparable to cities like Hong Kong, Glasgow and Melbourne in five to ten years. The longer term objective would be to join London and New York in the top rung of cultural cities (2000: 4)

The emergence of 'global cities for the arts' or the now global aspiration among major cities to be a 'Capital of Culture', is a largely new phenomenon. Singapore is not the only country that hopes to be considered a 'capital' of culture. By aggressively embarking on a series of initiatives to increase artistic production in the arts, Singapore is aiming to become a recognisable capital of culture. As more and more cities aspire to become capitals of culture, the Singapore Government is actively engaging in strategic policy-making, pursuing success within the intensifying global competition.

What is signified by the concept of 'success' in this context provokes key questions in cultural policy studies, particularly concerning the relation between the 'global perception' of a city and the socio-cultural realities of cultural development, particularly as the city struggles to achieve status through the visible acquisition and production of 'cultural capital'.

This thesis therefore examines the political and intellectual process of policy production and implementation emerging from Singapore's attempt to become a global cultural capital. It will concern itself particularly with issues surrounding the different initiatives that have been introduced since 2000 to encourage and support arts in ways that have the potential to diversify and contribute substantially to Singapore's economy.

In this context, there are three general questions that need to be asked at the outset, and there form the fundamental objectives for our research investigation

  1. What motivates the Singapore Government in wanting to turn Singapore into a Global City for the Arts?
  2. What are the key elements that the Government has determined that a capital of culture should have and how can these characteristics be created and maintained in Singapore?
  3. After 10 years of continued strategic investment in the arts and culture in Singapore, can Singapore be said to have truly become a Global City for the Arts?

    Main Supervisor:

    Dr. Jonathan Vickery