The Straits Times–“Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre gives performing groups a home”

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) chief executive Low Sze Wee (in grey) with members of the three performing arts groups that will be moving into the SCCC building in April.

Desiree Loh

Percussion ensemble group Drum Feng used to hold rehearsals in various locations – Nanyang Polytechnic or a friend’s empty warehouse – but not any more.

Next month, the young troupe of 10 musicians will have a space to call its own – a 1,000 sq ft studio at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) in Shenton Way.

“This is monumental for us because we’re doing this on our own and having a studio is a must. We can’t keep depending on our former school,” says co-founder Glen Ng, 28, a percussionist who was formerly part of Nanyang Polytechnic’s Chinese Orchestra, where more than half the group’s members met. “Having a space to call our own makes this more real.”

Drum Feng is one of three performing arts groups that have been selected to move into the SCCC next month under the centre’s Arts Housing Programme (AHP), an initiative rolled out as part of the Arts Support Framework that was launched yesterday.

SCCC chief executive Low Sze Wee says: “We want to use this building to see how we can better support our local arts groups to overcome the challenges that they have in finding suitable spaces for office use and rehearsals.”

Under the AHP, emerging and established performing arts groups are offered spaces ranging from around 1,000 sq ft to slightly more than 4,000 sq ft, at subsidised rates, for a period of three years.

For Teochew opera company Nam Hwa Opera and non-profit arts company The Teng Company – the other two partners under the AHP – the impending move into the SCCC building facilitates their expansion.

Mr Toh Lim Mok, 71, deputy chairman and president of Nam Hwa Opera, says: “We now have more activities, such as the Nam Hwa Teochew Music Ensemble and we’re also running classes for youngsters. We really need space to practise and train.”

The opera company is currently housed in Aliwal Arts Centre and it will have roughly 1,000 sq ft more space when it moves into the SCCC building.

Likewise, The Teng Company required a space larger than its current studio at PoMo in Selegie Road.

“Our company is growing at a rapid pace and the space gives us an opportunity and a platform to grow at a pace that’s comfortable to us and allows us to make greater changes with our music,” says creative director Samuel Wong, 36.

SCCC has also introduced two more initiatives – Artspace@SCCC and the Visual Arts Partnership – under the Art Support Framework to provide more exhibition spaces for local artists.