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Boosting Tanjong Pagar Distripark as arts cluster

NAC will work with tenants of warehouse building to hold multidisciplinary events

Plans are afoot to develop a multidisciplinary arts cluster in Tanjong Pagar Distripark as the National Arts Council (NAC) looks into collaborations with tenants of the Keppel Road warehouse building.

The news was announced yesterday by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong at the preview of S.E.A. Focus, a Singapore Art Week event.

He said: "NAC intends to launch a series of engagements and partner the arts community to co-create innovative new concepts and programmes in areas such as Tanjong Pagar Distripark.

"NAC is also exploring new ideas and collaborations with existing tenants in the distripark to grow its organic development as a cluster for multidisciplinary arts as well as other ancillary services."

NAC will identify suitable spaces in the distripark for these innovations and ideas, he added.

Tanjong Pagar Distripark - which already had a reputation as an edgy arts hub a decade ago - is home to exhibition venue Artspace@Helutrans and Gajah Gallery, which promotes South-east Asian contemporary art.

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM), whose buildings in Bras Basah are undergoing a major revamp, is also using the distripark for an Art Week exhibition.

S.E.A. Focus, which showcases art from galleries in the region, had been held in the Gillman Barracks art enclave since its launch in 2019. This year, it runs in Artspace@Helutrans.

Mr Tong said of the distripark: "With its industrial vibe and large spaces, there is tremendous potential here as a dedicated space for creatives to experiment, to produce and to exhibit their works."

He added: "This area is rich in heritage and also holds special memories for the arts community as the inaugural Singapore Biennale in 2006 was held at the historic Tanjong Pagar Railway Station just next door."

Mr Tong said: "Our cultural infrastructure - including possible art spaces such as these - can contribute greatly to our urban landscape and value-add to the lifestyle offerings for everyone in Singapore, as well as our friends from around the world."

SAM director Eugene Tan said the museum would like to use the distripark as a venue, at least until its revamp - targeted for completion in 2023 - is over.

"The space is really suitable for what we need as a contemporary art institution. The proportions, the size of the space, just the whole feel of it. It gives us the flexibility we need to do our projects and exhibitions," Dr Tan said.

The museum is presenting an exhibition by artist Choy Ka Fai at the distripark till Feb 21.

Dr Tan said they are exploring if they can use the space for a longer period, although he stressed nothing has been confirmed.

He added that they would try to make the distripark more accessible - by offering shuttle bus services from nearby MRT stations, for instance.

Gajah Gallery founder Jasdeep Sandhu, whose gallery moved to the distripark five years ago, welcomed the news.

He said: "If you look around Singapore right now, you've got little galleries like Coda Culture in Aliwal Street, the museum cluster in Bras Basah, and I think it's exciting to have another (cluster).

"It will boost Singapore's position as an arts hub in South-east Asia. It's not just Gillman Barracks as a standalone - there are so many places to visit."