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Untapped Funds

08:01 AM Monday 5/7/12 | |

Few musicians in Singapore seem aware that their government has a program that subsidizes their activities overseas.

According to the website AsiaOne, something like 4 million Singapore dollars ($3.2 million) has been made available by the Ministry for Information, Communications and the Arts to promote local music in the past five years. Most of those who would benefit hadn’t known about it.

After a member of Parliament recently brought up the funding in a session, it was reported on the news and became more public.

Subsequently, more artists have inquired into how they can get their hands on the money. Apparently, it goes only to applicants who plan to attend events overseas.

For instance, a five-piece rock band called Caracal applied for and received a grant of S$2,000 (US$1,600) to attend the Midi Music Festival in Beijing. The band, which has been together for seven years, had seen some success with its debut EP in 2009 and was invited to Midi by the festival’s organizers the following year. However, the band would have to pay its own transportation but couldn’t afford it. The band’s members found out about the National Arts Council grant almost by accident online.

One local musician, however, believes the conditions for approval of the grant are too limiting.

He told AsiaOne that the only criterion the NAC seems to care about is foreign exposure, but he says acts needs to be nurtured in Singapore first before they can gain any notoriety outside of the city-state.

Another problem is that even when groups from Singapore do receive invitations from overseas festivals, the invitations often don’t come until quite close to the festival date, and grant approvals take time.

Errol Tan, head of local record label Kitty Wu, told the website that the grants should be administered by someone “who understands the musicians’ needs and gives help accordingly.”

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