Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society



The Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) is a non-profit cultural organisation, dedicated to the preservation and transmission of Indian culture through the arts.1 Its motto is “kala samskriti lakshanam”, meaning “art characterises civilisation”.2 SIFAS provides classes in Indian classical dance (including bharathanatyam, kathak and kuchipudi) and music (such as carnatic vocal, veena, and Hindustani vocal and sitar).3

History

The society was founded in 1949 and in its early years focused on staging plays by Indian playwrights.4 SIFAS started with 12 founding members, whose aim was to provide a cultural grounding to complement the colonial education system.5 The first bharatanatyam (the South Indian classical dance form) classes were started in 1951. The first tutors were from Malaya and worked part-time. The society started with six students.6 Its first public performance was Sacrifice, an English-language play by Rabindranath Tagore, followed by a series of Tamil-language dramas.7

In 1964, the society acquired a flat at St Michael’s Road, but its tenure there was limited due to complaints from neighbours about the noise. Classes continued in private buildings until its move to Balestier Road in 1982.8 The society is currently housed at Starlight Road (in the former Rangoon Road Primary School building), and has more than 1,000 members and an enrolment of about 900 students.9

SIFAS organises numerous performances, art exhibitions, talks and conferences. The society began conferring the Kala Ratna (Jewel of the Arts) award in 1986, in recognition of significant achievements and contributions to the Indian Arts scene in Singapore.10 The Kala Ratna is awarded annually to recipients who have achieved a high level of excellence in their fields. Past recipients have included noted writers, artists and musicians.11

Timeline
1949:
SIFAS is founded, with 12 members.12

1952: First classes begin in a private home.13
1959: SIFAS Academy is inaugurated by then Minister of Culture S. Rajaratnam.14
1964: SIFAS moves to premises at St Michael's Road, its first proper home.15
1982: The society moves to premises at Balestier Road.16
1986: “Kala Ratna”, an annual award scheme was instituted to recognise distinguished individuals who have made significant achievements and contributions to Indian Arts in Singapore. The First Kala Ratna Award is conferred on M Chotta Singh (Dr) (Late).17
17 July 1993: SIFAS’s new building at Starlight Road is opened by then Minister for Information and the Arts, Brigadier-General George Yeo.18
1999: SIFAS celebrates its 50th Anniversary.19
22 July 2014: The first Satellite centre is launched by SIFAS as a joint venture at Tampines Changkat Community Centre.20



Author

Roberta Balagopal



References
1. Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). Brief history. Retrieved 2016, July 20 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/pages.php?mid=2&sid=2
2. Sankaran, R. (1991, September 20). A fine endeavour. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). Brief history. Retrieved 2016, September 13 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/pages.php?mid=2&sid=2
3. Chatterjee, J. (1993, February 5). More space, more art. The Straits Times, p. 11; Sankaran, R. (1991, September 20). A fine endeavour. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Sankaran, R. (1991, September 20). A fine endeavour. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). Brief history. Retrieved 2016, July 20 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/pages.php?mid=2&sid=2
6. Vaidyanathan, S. (1993, July 17). A cultural temple finds a new home. The Straits Times. p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Srinivasan, R. (1999, September–October). SIFAS 50 years on looking back, forging ahead. Esplanade: The Arts magazine, 14. (Call no.: RDTSH q791.095957 E)
8. Vaidyanathan, S. (1993, July 17). A cultural temple finds a new home. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Srinivasan, R. (1999, September–October). SIFAS 50 years on looking back, forging ahead. Esplanade: The Arts magazine, 13. (Call no.: RDTSH q791.095957 E); Acquaint others with Indian culture: BG Yeo. (1993, July 18). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). Kala Ratna awards. Retrieved 2016, July 20 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/kala-ratna-awards.php
11. Sankaran, R. (1991, September 20). A fine endeavour. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). Brief history. Retrieved 2016, July 20 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/pages.php?mid=2&sid=2
13. Srinivasan, R. (1999, September-October). SIFAS 50 years on looking back, forging ahead. Esplanade: The Arts magazine, 14. (Call no.: RDTSH q791.095957 E)
14. Srinivasan, R. (1999, September-October). SIFAS 50 years on looking back, forging ahead. Esplanade: The Arts magazine, 14. (Call no.: RDTSH q791.095957 E)
15. Srinivasan, R. (1999, September-October). SIFAS 50 years on looking back, forging ahead. Esplanade: The Arts magazine, 14. (Call no.: RDTSH q791.095957 E)
16. Sankaran, R. (1991, September 20). A fine endeavour. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). Kala Ratna awards. Retrieved 2016, July 20 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/kala-ratna-awards.php
18. Vaidyanathan, S. (1993, July 17). A cultural temple finds a new home. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Srinivasan, R. (1999, September-October). SIFAS 50 years on looking back, forging ahead. Esplanade: The Arts magazine, 15. (Call no.: RDTSH q791.095957 E)
20. Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. (2003–2005). News. Retrieved 2016, July 20 from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society website: http://www.sifas.org/news.php?page=2



The information in this article is valid as at  2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Heritage and Culture
Organisations
Ethnic Communities
Arts>>Visual Arts
Performing arts--Singapore
Arts
Visual Arts
East Indians--Singapore
Organisations>>Associations
Indians (Asian people)--Singapore
People and communities>>Social groups and communities