Public Release: 

Singapore arts through the eyes of four generations

World Scientific


IMAGE: This is the cover for Art Hats in Renaissance City: Reflections & Aspirations of Four Generations of Art Personalities. view more

Credit: World Scientific, 2015

Around the world, Singapore has been known as the nation that catapulted itself from a third world to a first world country in a single generation in an economic sense, but there has been little international publicity about Singapore's significant transformation in its cultural "software" capabilities, audience and vibrancy over the same period of time, and in particular, the last two decades.

To address the information gap on the development of Singapore's arts scene, World Scientific has published "Art Hats in Renaissance City: Reflections & Aspirations of Four Generations of Art Personalities" . With contributions from four generations of "go-to" personalities, this anthology recognises that our cultural heritage was in essence, passed down from one generation to another through daily practice with little documentation, and seeks to encapsulate the cultural consequence of this historical evolution in four sections: Leaders; Curators, Critics & Historians; Artists & Practitioners; and Academicians.

The contributors include personalities like Dr Tan Chin Nam, former Permanent Secretary of the then-Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh, pioneering cultural administrators Liew Chin Choy and Goh Ching Lee, Benson Puah, CEO of The Esplanade, Dr Alan Cheong, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Peranakan Museum, and concurrently Chief Curatorial Director of the National Heritage Board, Tan Swie Hian, who has 29 international accolades and is Southeast Asia's most expensive living artist, and even renowned television artistes like Guo Liang.

"Singapore's cultural history came as a consequence of the many trading vessels that came to dock and trade at the mouth of the Singapore River since the 14th Century AD, with economic immigrants and those seeking refuge from war or strife in their native land," noted the anthology's editor Renee Lee, who is Course Leaders of the Creative Industry Management at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), "Decades of economic survival has left most Singaporeans little time to be involved in the arts. Though this could be a simplistic view, these together with other factors, created the "cultural desert" moniker for Singapore. The purpose of this anthology does not qualify to boast of the victor's tales; the national history is the work of many."

In his part of contribution, Professor Tommy Koh wrote, "During the past 20 years, a paradigm shift has taken place in culture and the arts in Singapore. We have made more progress in this sector than anyone could have imagined 20 years ago.... We have augmented our collections, nurtured the growth of a new generation of writers, composers, musicians, dancers, actors, curators, designers and conservators. We have broadened our intellectual and artistic freedom. We have also grown a new generation of culture-loving Singaporeans. The future of culture and the arts in Singapore is a bright one."

The book was launched by Renee at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, on 26 June and will be sold at all major bookstores for US$65 / £43 (hardcover). More information about the book can be found at


About World Scientific Publishing

World Scientific Publishing is a leading independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. The company publishes about 500 books annually and more than 120 journals in various fields. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organisations like the Nobel Foundation, US National Academies Press, as well as its subsidiary, the Imperial College Press, amongst others, to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit

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