I am honoured and delighted to welcome you to the Patron of Heritage Awards 2020. This year, we honour 63 valued patrons who contributed about $3.24 million to heritage causes in 2020.
It has been an extraordinary year for cultural and heritage philanthropy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, there is a lot to be thankful for. Your generosity in these unprecedented times has inspired and empowered us – the custodians of Singapore’s heritage – to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. With your help, we’ve launched exciting exhibitions, beloved festivals as well as a slew of dynamic public initiatives. These have gone a long way in restoring a sense of confidence, hope and optimism among Singaporeans.
We were, for instance, able to adapt and stay resilient by reinventing the museum experience, taking strides to reimagine our outreach by harnessing digital and hybrid formats. Take the case of our annual blockbuster event, the Singapore HeritageFest. Its inaugural digital edition in 2020 featured more than 80 free programmes. Leveraging technology in the form of online tours, digitally commissioned performances, webinars, online masterclasses, and more, lesser-known stories of our heritage were uncovered and told.
Other digital initiatives across the year such as the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign brought together the best of Singapore’s arts and culture digital offerings, allowing the wider community to easily access an array of cultural activities and programmes. Then there was DigiMuse’s Circuit Breaker Edition where creatives from the technology sector were invited to produce homegrown digital projects. Initiatives like these help boost the reach and accessibility of our content.
In presenting the stories of Singapore, the Malay Heritage Centre put together a special exhibition called Urang Banjar: Heritage and Culture of the Banjar in Singapore which shed light on the history and cultural norms of the community. Meanwhile, the National Museum of Singapore rolled out Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present which explored Singapore’s past and present as a means to reflect on our identity and collective memory. The museum also pushed out an exhibition called Doraemon’s Time-Travelling Adventures in Singapore which spotlighted captivating stories about the island through handpicked artefacts from the National Collection.
Along the way, we unveiled three refreshed galleries at the Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum of Singapore and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. These refreshed spaces, one of which was the Asian Civilisations Museum’s Fashion and Textiles gallery, were redeveloped with the aim of introducing new ways for audiences to engage with heritage.
Our reach also extended beyond our borders via The Baoli Era: Treasures from the Tang Shipwreck Collection exhibition – the first dedicated showcase of the Asian Civilisations Museum’s Tang Shipwreck Collection in China. It marked 30 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and China. Little-known insights on the wreck’s ninth-century cargo were presented as part of curatorial offerings. This was further supplemented by a digital conference.
2020 was also a year for a number of major milestones celebrating Singapore’s much lauded multiculturalism. Most notably, we made history with the inscription of Hawker Culture in Singapore on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. With the community’s support, we were able to showcase a much-loved aspect of Singapore’s diverse, everyday culture on the international stage.
The warm generosity of heritage benefactors like yourselves – whether through contributions in cash, in kind or in the form of artefacts – alongside the active participation of the public, are essential for the safeguarding of our heritage, allowing Singaporeans and foreigners alike to enjoy the nation’s rich heritage for years to come.
We remain committed to our mission of preserving and celebrating the shared heritage of our diverse communities, and I look forward to your continued patronage as we journey onward together.
Ms Yeoh Chee Yan
National Heritage Board