Monday, 1 June 2015

[Today] How does NAC grant withdrawal help the arts?

I am disappointed with the National Arts Council’s (NAC) recent decision to withdraw an S$8,000 production grant to Epigram Books for the graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (“NAC cancels grant for book with ‘politically sensitive content’; May 30).
By not elaborating on the reasons for its revocation, the NAC is taking a seemingly “schoolmaster” approach to the arts: “Do something we deem wrong or inappropriate, and we will withdraw the support we had promised.” This approach goes against the spirit of artistic expression.
Both the artist and the publisher have achieved acclaim and contributed to Singapore’s arts scene and reputation locally and abroad. The author, Mr Sonny Liew, has been nominated for three Eisner awards — the equivalent of the Oscars for comics. Epigram Books has been publishing works by Singaporeans across many genres, from children’s books to graphic and other types of novels.
Funding is the lifeblood of any arts organisation and/or artist. Taking funding away from Epigram after it has made plans and taken risks affects both morale and cash flow. How does this decision help the arts?
NAC should reconsider its decision and be more specific and forthcoming with its reasons for the grant withdrawal.