Arts Housing Scheme



The Arts Housing Scheme is a project under the National Arts Council (NAC).1 It was introduced in 1985 by the former Ministry of Community Development to support local artists and arts activities.2 Recognising that land is scarce and expensive in Singapore, the scheme was initiated to provide subsidised rental spaces to arts groups for their artistic practice.3

History
Opened in 1985, the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre was the first performing arts centre established under the Arts Housing Scheme.4 The scheme has since housed arts groups in a variety of buildings, from disused warehouses to old shophouses in central locations.5


The development of the Arts Housing Scheme was marked by three distinct phases over the years.6 In the early phase, locations such as the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre, The Substation and the Lasalle College of the Arts were refurbished. Phase Two of the scheme began in 1992. Under this phase, old buildings earmarked for conservation in the Waterloo and Rochor areas were identified as suitable sites for housing arts groups.7 The third phase, which started after 1996, included more centrally located premises in Chinatown, Little India and along the Singapore River.8

Description
Arts housing properties under the Arts Housing Scheming are mainly either a single-tenanted building housing a single arts group or a multi-tenanted building that houses several arts groups.9 The third type involves co-locating an arts group with non-arts tenants in the same building.10


As at 2017, the two main arts belts are on Waterloo Street and in Chinatown. The third, smaller arts belt is in Little India. There are also two co-located facilities in Marine Parade and Ghim Moh.11

Tenant selection is based on several criteria: need for housing, artistic standard, track record, merit of planned activities, managerial strength and growth potential. Successful applicants are required to pay 10 percent of the rent charged by the Singapore Land Authority, as well as utility and maintenance costs. The remaining 90 percent of the rent is subsidised by the NAC.12

Timeline
1985: Former Telok Ayer Primary School on Cecil Street is converted into Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre, which houses arts groups of different cultural traditions and art forms.13
1988: Former Stamford Primary School building is restored as Stamford Arts Centre housing nine arts groups, with Theatre Practice as its anchor tenant. Built by the Japanese in the 1900s, the building was used as a Japanese school until World War II. After the war, it became Stamford Primary School.14
1990: Converted from a 60-year-old Public Utilities Board electric substation, multidisciplinary arts centre The Substation is opened on Armenian Street.15
1990: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ Short Street campus opens, with two more campuses on Middle and Wilkie roads added later.16
1992: One-Two-Six Cairnhill Arts Centre opens at the restored former Anglo-Chinese School building, housing groups such as Act 3 and Teater Kami.17
1992: Lasalle College of the Arts moves into its new Mountbatten campus.18
1995: Chinese Calligraphy Society, Dance Ensemble Singapore and other arts groups begin relocating to Waterloo Street.19
1997: A group of artists, including Teo Eng Seng and Tan Swie Hian, moves to Telok Kurau Studios, housed in another former primary school.20
1998: Smith and Trengganu streets are home to nine Mandarin arts groups including Chinese Theatre Circle and Xin Sheng Poets’ Society.21
1999: Premises of Sculpture Square and Action Theatre open in the Waterloo area, which marks the completion of the S$5 million Waterloo Street Arts Belt under the Arts Housing Scheme.22
2000: Theatre company The Necessary Stage is co-located with the Marine Parade Community Club in the Marine Parade Community Building.23
2001: NAC acquires 10 units of shophouses along Kerbau Road for the Little India Arts Belt.24



Author

Nureza Ahmad



References
1. Tong, M. C. (1995, March 3). Arts district to foster creative spirit. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. National Arts Council. (n.d.). New framework for arts spaces – Annex A: Review of the National Arts Council’s Arts Housing Scheme [Press release]. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/media-resources/press-releases/New-Framework-for-Arts-Spaces.html
3. Ho, S. B. (1994, November 18). Amateur arts group told to vacate premises. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9; Arts council gets pick of 38 ‘homes’ for artists. (1993, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html
6. Phan, M. Y. (1993, September 3). Old buildings set aside for arts groups. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Arts council gets pick of 38 ‘homes’ for artists. (1993, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html
9. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html
10. National Arts Council. (n.d.). New framework for arts spaces [Press release]. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/media-resources/press-releases/New-Framework-for-Arts-Spaces.html
11. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html
12. National Arts Council. (2010, December 17). Annex A: Review of National Arts Council’s Arts Housing Scheme. Retrieved 2017, June 6 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/dam/jcr:fa540138-43a9-46be-8e81-55a386a4831a; National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html
13. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9; Chew, D. (2006, April 28). Stamford Arts Centre. Today, p. 94. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Yeo, R. (1992, May 1). New arts hub. The Straits Times, p. 8; From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Leong, W. K. (1994, February 4). Calligraphy society happy with new centre. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9; Oon, C. (1998, December 8). Chinatown houses for arts groups. The Straits Times, p. 61. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. From classrooms to restored buildings. (1999, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 9; Hong, X. (2003, July 17). Fighting the rattle of Waterloo. The Straits Times, p. L8; Arts council lauded for ‘great job’. (1999, May 29). The Straits Times. p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme: Other arts housing. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html#Other-Arts-Housing
24. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Arts spaces: Art Housing Scheme – Little India Arts Belt. Retrieved 2017, April 21 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/whatwedo/support/arts-spaces/art-housing-scheme.html#Little-India-Arts-Belt



The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we are able to 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
Arts--Singapore
Government aid to the arts--Singapore
Law and government>>Culture and community>>Arts
Arts publicity--Singapore
Arts