Independent arts centre The Substation announced its permanent closure today (March 2).
It will vacate its premises this July, after more than three decades as an icon of Singapore’s indie arts scene.
The arts centre was due to vacate its 45 Armenian Street premises for two years owing to renovation works.
The centre leases the building from the National Arts Council (NAC) under its Arts Housing Scheme, which provides the arts with heavily subsidised spaces.
In a statement, The Substation’s board said that while NAC suggested that it return after the renovation works as a co-tenant, it would not fully occupy the building.
The Substation later came to the decision to wind down operations after lengthy discussions with the NAC and members of the arts community, mainly because of its inability to return “fully to its place of origin.”
In its statement, The Substation board said that it would lose a “fundamental part of its identity and heritage” if the centre could not return fully to its original location.
Furthermore, as a co-tenant, the centre would not be able to have control over building facilities like the theatre and gallery, which plays a big role in its operations.
It would also lose income from venue rentals, which make up half of the centre’s funding.
To add on, the Covid-19 pandemic also made fundraising more difficult for the centre.
From Former Power Substation To Arts Icon
The Substation was founded in 1990 by the late Cultural Medallion winner and playwright Kuo Pao Kun.
Spanning 1,630 sqm, the centre houses a black box, studios and an art gallery, and has successfully built a community around the arts.
Over the years, The Substation has worked with some of Singapore’s most critically acclaimed artists, writers and intellectuals including Alvin Tan, Goh Boon Teck, Amanda Heng, Lee Wen and Kok Heng Leun.
According to its website, The Substation “leads and supports cultural conversations in Singapore, engaging the general public and exposing them to the full possibilities of contemporary art in shaping public discourse.”
“With our closure, we hope that other arts organisations in Singapore will continue to carry the torch to give budding artists a safe space in which to experiment and develop their art,” said Mr Chew Kheng Chuan, chairman of The Substation’s board.
Featured Image Credit: SG Magazine