To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent?

This question is indeed interesting considering how Singapore has stated her explicit aims of being a global arts hub on one hand, and the recent online Youtube controversy on the other hand about Stephanie Koh proclaiming that she is not proud of being a Singaporean due to the lack of an arts scene here. She claims the lack of this art scene makes the environment very stifling.  This “complain” of Stephanie Koh is just one of the many laments that we hear from the local art talents here. So how exactly should we bridge the gap between the nation’s aim versus the grudges of local talents? Should we focus on the local art talent or the foreign talent in order to elevate and revitalize our arts scene first?

Foreign talents definitely!

  1. Focusing on foreign talents who have the necessary expertise and connections will create a platform for future local arts talents to leverage on and develop their own artistic potentials. Many global cities have already established their own niche area in the arts scene and it will be extremely difficult for Singapore to break through and crave out a name in this sector without some foreign expertise and help. International collaboration will go a long way in ensuring that Singapore makes waves in the art scene- small but impactful waves should be the main objective of Singapore in order to attract some attention which can go a long way for local art talents.
  1. Having world-renowned foreign talents in the local arts scene will serve as a “pull” factor in getting tourists into Singapore and help to boost our economic performance, considering that Singapore is heavily dependent on the service industry. The arts industry is a huge untapped potential area for Singapore to develop and attain tourist dollar.  Singapore has implemented the Foreign Artistic Talent scheme to encourage international arts professional to become PR here in order to improve the arts and culture landscape.
  1. Singaporeans are likely to trust foreign productions that have been successful overseas than a local production that they have not even heard much about. Singaporeans in general are very skeptical and conservative and may not like to try anything new, and would rather get “their money worth” on a foreign production. The whole aim is not on whether Singapore is focusing on local or foreign production, rather using these foreign productions to get Singaporeans even interested in the arts scene, so that local arts will have more recognition in time to come.

E.g. Productions like “Lion King and “Shakespeare in the Park” have high recognition overseas which translate to high interest by the locals- goes a long way in getting Singaporeans to start enjoying arts production.

Locals definitely!

  1. Locals are talented and should be given a voice and platform to express their works, otherwise it will lead to a brain drain eventually. Local talents will be able to add a domestic angle to productions and cater better to the local audience due to their understanding of local social issues.  Prominent people who have left include Stephanie Koh.
  1. Governments should spend more money in grooming our local talents and providing them the platform to tap into the local market before venturing overseas. It is a sector that Singapore can be proud of and even develop their nationalistic pride surrounding it. For instance, we have the Young Artist Award to encourage the development of young artistic talents. SOTA has also been created to better cater and keep our young local talent pool.

Students should note that by the nature of the subject, there is several other possible pointers too, so feel free to discuss freely below!

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