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  • Jul 21, 2020

Singapore Arts Groups To Lose Their Spaces

Exterior view of Intercultural Theatre Institute at Emily Hill, Singapore. Image via Wikipedia.

In Singapore, which has entered a recession amid disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, some art and cultural institutions are faced with being displaced from their current spaces.

The independent theater academy Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI) is vacating its 10,000-square-feet venue at the Emily Hill bungalow this year due to “a hefty increase in the rent,” according to director and co-founder Thirunalan Sasitharan, as reported by The Straits Times. This marks the end of the school’s 13-year-old lease at the site. The National Arts Council (NAC), the intermediary for arts housing, says that it has been working with the organization on sourcing new locations. ITI announced in a Facebook post yesterday that it has found a potential undisclosed new home, and will relocate by next year. 

Likewise, the nonprofit theater company The Necessary Stage (TNS) will need to withdraw from its current 716-square-meter space at the Marine Parade Community Club, where it has resided since 2000 and operates a 142-square-meter black box. The Club’s owner People’s Association revealed in a social media post in July 2019 that the space will undergo renovations, impacting the production schedule of TNS who claim to have been uninformed of the decision. The NAC is currently working with TNS to book the multipurpose space at Stamford Arts Centre Black Box for TNS's scheduled projects.

Meanwhile, the fate of The Substation dangles in the air as the NAC plans to take back the nonprofit art institution’s three-story building for renovations next July. Although the city’s first independent contemporary arts center has been promised subsidized temporary housing at Goodman Arts Centre by the NAC during this period, co-artistic director Raka Maitra expressed concern to the Straits Times that its current 1,630 square-meters space may shrink when it returns to the venue. The organization is the earliest project constructed under the NAC’s “Arts Housing Scheme,” and currently comprises a theater, dance studio, classrooms, and a 113 square-meter gallery in its building at 45 Armenian Street.

Formerly known as the Theatre Training and Research Programme (TTRP), ITI was launched in 2000 to focus on training actors in contemporary and classical Asian theater-making. Its latest productions include 4.48 Psychosisperformed earlier in March. Established in 1987, TNS, by comparison is a generation older and has presented over 100 original plays locally and internationally.

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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