Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) marked a significant milestone with the Patron of the Arts Awards (POAA) 2023, commemorating 40 years of supporting Singapore’s arts. In this year’s edition, more than 400 patrons were honored, including 313 individuals and 91 organizations, who collectively contributed over $45 million in 2022 to bolster the local arts ecosystem.
The awards ceremony took place on 12 September 2023, at Equarius Hotel and was graced by Mr. Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law.
Surge in Arts Philanthropy
The past year witnessed a remarkable surge in arts giving, with a 29% increase in total contributions by patrons since 2020, marking the highest level of support in three years. The number of awardees also saw a 25% increase since 2021, reaching an all-time high since the inception of POAA in 1983.
Honoring Long-Term Commitment
In a first for the awards, this year introduced the Honorary Patron of the Arts Awards. These accolades recognized patrons with a long-standing commitment to the arts, awarded to those who have received the Distinguished Patron of the Arts Award at least 20 times. UOB and SPH Media were the inaugural recipients of this prestigious honor, having contributed significantly to the local arts landscape through various initiatives and sponsorships.
Founding Patrons and Newcomers
ExxonMobil and Singapore International Airlines (SIA), the founding awardees of POAA, continued their support for the arts by facilitating concerts and international artistic exchanges. The influx of first-time patrons increased by 45% since 2021, with new awardees making diverse contributions to elevate the arts scene.
Diverse Forms of Giving
Arts philanthropy took various forms, from cash donations by corporations of all sizes to in-kind contributions, which saw a threefold increase over the past year, valued at $19.3 million. Companies like JPL Consultants and Frasers Hospitality were recognized for their valuable in-kind support to the arts community.
Supporting Communities and Education
Many patrons leveraged the arts to empower vulnerable groups and promote inclusivity in society. Contributions to arts education, such as the Tan Chay Bing Education Fund, supported young artistic talents in Singapore. Notable patrons like The Ngee Ann Kongsi and Tan Kah Tee also played pivotal roles in advancing arts education.
A New Generation of Arts Philanthropy
Over the past four decades, Singapore has shown a growing belief in the arts, as evidenced by the increasing pool of patrons and their unwavering support. The partnership between the private sector and NAC’s Sustain the Arts (stART) Fund has been instrumental in helping small arts organizations develop capabilities to secure their future.
Supporting the Arts Ecosystem
With the launch of Our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027), NAC invites individuals, artists, and stakeholders to contribute to building a more inclusive and vibrant arts scene. POAA 2023 celebrated the contributions made between January 1 and December 31, 2022, reflecting the commitment of Singapore’s arts patrons.