The Substation was previously announced to be permanently closing in March. This was a decision that was made primarily due to The Substation’s
financial sustainability as an independent arts centre, made worse by Covid-19, and the National Arts Council’s (NAC) decision to convert the space into a centre
for multiple arts groups.
But hope springs anew, as it seems that it will not be closing after all, and return in a somewhat different form than we know it.
Following a Town Hall and various expressions of support from the community, The Substation received a number of proposals on how to continue the organisation’s work, even after the venue’s closure. For a plurality of views and expertise, the Board approached established members of the arts community with diverse backgrounds and organisational experience to help evaluate the strength of the proposals.
The Substation received two proposals, one from Shaiful Risan, and the other from a group including Alvin Tan, Audrey Wong, Kok Heng Leun and Noorlinah Mohamed. Both proposals reflected the proposers’ passion for The Substation’s history and its role in shaping the arts scene, underscoring the critical importance of having an independent and multi-disciplinary arts centre in Singapore, and recognised that the areas of long-term growth, budgeting and fundraising remain key challenges that need to be addressed.
From there, two members of The Substation Board, Wahyuni Hadi and Jean-Louis Morisot, worked together to conceptualise a new Substation (Substation 2.0) which sought to reconcile The Substation’s historical artistic mission with the long term challenge of financial sustainability. The key common principle that underpins Substation 2.0 and the two proposals is the commitment for The Substation to remain an independent arts company.
All of this has resulted in the formal announcement of Substation 2.0, as this revamped organisation applies for funding support from the National Arts Council, from the private sector and community, and using the months ahead to recalibrate and plan. Substation 2.0 will continue to have as its core mission the discovering, nurturing and supporting of new and diverse voices in the arts.
“I am seriously glad that a way forward for the meaningful continuation of The Substation has been found. The Board had taken the difficult decision to close because we felt it was the right thing to do to protect The Substation’s proud heritage,” says Chew Kheng Chuan, Chairman of the Board. “At the same time, we also felt the strength of desire of large parts of the arts community not to see it close.”
“Substation 2.0 represents a necessary radical evolution of The Substation in order to be sustainable in the longer term. I am certain that the small committed team that has come together to lead Substation 2.0 forward will give it their all, and all of us on the current Substation Board have told them they can count on us to support them in any way we can.”– Chew Kheng Chuan, Chairman
The fundamental shift for The Substation is evolving from an arts centre to an arts company focused on developing original programming. The strategic vision of The Substation 2.0 is to create a path for emerging independent artists of all disciplines through incubation and mentorship; to be the home for the arts through meaningful engagement of the artistic community; and to create a regional presence in Southeast Asia through engaged partnerships and collaborations.
By the end of August, The Substation will be led by a new Board, comprising a group of arts professionals and practitioners from multiple disciplines and age groups to offer diversity in experiences and background. Ms. Raka Maitra (previous co-artistic director of The Substation) will be the Artistic Director, with Ms. Serene Yap as General Manager.
“The Substation will return to its roots and defining mission, realigning them to our new circumstances,” says Board member Wahyuni Hadi. “The Substation’s purpose over the next few years will be to re-establish and redefine The Substation as the home for independent artists in Singapore, independent of our original building, while expanding our collaborative partnerships locally and in the region. The Substation still has an important role to play in the Singapore arts scene, and we are grateful for this new beginning and the support the community has shown. ”
“I am honoured to be given the opportunity to lead The Substation as its Artistic Director during this period of critical transformation for The Substation,” says Raka Maitra, The Substation 2.0 Artistic Director. “The Substation has always championed independent artists and in doing so, has created a space for new kinds of art works in Singapore. We remain committed to being an incubator of new talents and presenting works that inspire and create dialogue.”
Photos from the Substation’s Instagram