2020 Recipients

Inaugural Recipients - 2020

Apsaras Arts Ltd

Indian Dance Forms

Apsaras Arts Ltd
Image Credit: National Heritage Board


Since 1977, Apsaras Arts, founded by arts pioneers the late Mr and Mrs Sathyalingam, has been promoting Indian classical dance both locally and internationally through performances, festivals and classes. It is now led by Mr Aravinth Kumarasamy, who is one of the earliest recipients of NAC's Young Artist Award. Today, Apsaras Arts is both performing company and an academy with a key aim of building new audiences through various programmes which showcase young and upcoming Singaporean artists through a solo performance series.

Apsaras Arts has also embarked on industry development initiatives for the local Indian dance community such as formal training courses and residency programmes for professional dancers, which also allows them international performing opportunities such as the Darshana series. To train and nurture the younger generation, it conducts outreach to schools, and special dance courses for young children. On a broader level, Apsaras Arts has regular engagement with the community through public programmes that include Silver Arts Festival, public workshops and masterclasses.

G.T. Lye 

Wayang peranakan and dondang sayang

GT Lye
Image Credit: National Heritage Board


G.T. Lye is a veteran and iconic Singapore actor, who is a major contributor to wayang peranakan and dondang sayang in Singapore. He is credited as the one who helped revive wayang peranakan in the 1980s. His mastery of the traditional art of female impersonation in wayang peranakan performances is recognised as unmatched both within and beyond the Peranakan community in Singapore. He has decades of experience as a wayang peranakan actor, scriptwriter and co-director. Over the years, he has nurtured future generations of actors and audiences, coaching and mentoring younger practitioners to encourage the continuation of the practice of wayang peranakan and dondang sayang.

Michael Ker 

Making of popiah

Michael Ker
Image Credit: National Heritage Board


Michael Ker is the third-generation owner of Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah, an 83- year-old family business located in Joo Chiat. He continues the practice to make popiah skins from scratch using the traditional hand-made technique, which he had learnt from his father. He has been training his younger nephew and cousin to make popiah skins using this technique and is seen as an inspiring figure by younger family members and visiting students. Michael experiments with new versions of popiah to cater to different tastes and to appeal to younger generations. He also obtained a Halal certification for his restaurant so that his popiah can be consumed by more people from different ethnicities too. Collaborations with the Singapore Tourism Board have enabled Michael to help promote heritage activities in the Katong/Joo Chiat precinct, as well as to showcase popiah-making at international food festivals.

Nam Hwa Opera 

Teochew opera and Music

Nam Hwa Opera
Image Credit: National Heritage Board


Founded in 1963 by avid fans of Teochew opera, Nam Hwa has since grown into a prominent Teochew opera company known for its promotion of traditional Teochew opera over many decades. It runs workshops and outreach performances at community spaces including hospitals and schools. Since 2016, Nam Hwa runs the annual Nam Hwa Blazes festival featuring free public Teochew opera performances. Nam Hwa trains young musicians and practitioners, holding masterclasses in Teochew music and operating training classes. As part of efforts to safeguard Teochew opera, it set up the Yeo Khee Lim Teochew Culture Research Centre, with the aim of becoming a hub for research in Teochew culture and an archive of Teochew opera.

Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd 

Malay Dance, Dikir Barat, Wayang Kulit, Bangsawan

5 Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd
Image Credit: National Heritage Board


Founded in 1997, Sri Warisan has been involved in hundreds of local and international events and festivals, establishing a trademark style of blending traditional Malay forms with contemporary techniques. The group was founded by Cultural Medallion winner, Mdm Som Said.

Sri Warisan is committed to nurturing an interest in the Malay art forms among children and youth, and since 1999, has run a wide range of education programmes with schools, in particular through the National Arts Council's Arts Education Programme. They have also supported many productions and community projects with their expertise; for example, they conducted intensive Malay dance and music workshops for the cast of the Lion King musical in Singapore, Germany, China and the Philippines.

Thow Kwang Industry Pte Ltd 

Making of Wood-fired Pottery

Thow Kwang Industry Pte Ltd
Image Credit: National Heritage Board


Thow Kwang is a family business that owns and operates one of the two remaining dragon kilns in Singapore. Mr Tan Teck Yoke and Mrs Yulianti Tan currently manage the overall operations of the kiln, alongside third generation practitioner, their niece Ms Stella Tan. Since the 1980s, they have developed a wide range of outreach programmes and community initiatives, educating the public on the wood-firing process through regular classes and guided tours.

Thow Kwang has evolved from manufacturing pottery products to its current day focus on community engagement and creating artisanal products. It has become a hub for a community of local clay artists, known as the Thow Kwang Clay Artists, in utilising the firing process and transmitting knowledge of the craft. Thow Kwang’s continual promotion of its craft and history to various segments of society, from as young as primary school students, has resulted in greater visibility for the dragon kiln in Singapore. It gets volunteers and young enthusiasts to join in the firing of the dragon kiln, which occurs two to three times a year. Another notable initiative by Thow Kwang is therapy sessions with social service organisations, demonstrating how intangible cultural heritage can be utilised to enhance well-being and foster an inclusive society.



Each recipient (individual or organisation) will be presented with a trophy, certificate of award, and S$5,000 cash prize.

Each recipient will also have the option to tap up to S$20,000 in project funding. This is subject to the approval of the proposed project. Please click here to find out more.

Award Categories & Eligibility

  1. Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, 18 years and above.

  2. Must be a practitioner with minimum 10 years in vocation and a respected member of the practising community.

Note: Award will only be conferred upon individuals who are ICH practitioners - researchers, advocates, and/or managers of ICH organisations who do not themselves possess ICH knowledge and practice ICH skills are not eligible for the Award.

  1. Must be based in Singapore and headed by a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident

  2. The group must have been practising for a minimum of 10 years.

  3. The group must be a formally registered society or company.

Note: Awards will not be conferred posthumously.

Nomination Methods

Self-nomination and public nomination

Evaluation Criteria

Nominees are evaluated according to how they have demonstrated the following criteria:

Active Transmission of Skills and Knowledge

  • Displays outstanding and ongoing efforts to transmit skills and knowledge to the next generation

  • Regular engagement with the wider community to raise awareness of the practice

Mastery of Skills and Knowledge

  • Displays excellence in the application of both knowledge and skills

Long-Term Dedication to Transmitting Practice

  • Long-term commitment to sustaining knowledge and skills of the practice

Positive Impact and Influence

  • Serves as a positive example by encouraging cultural exchange

  • Displays efforts to serve the wider community through the practice


Individual and group/organisation applications will be evaluated as separate categories of applicants, although all applications will be assessed based on the above criteria.

Evaluation Panel

Nominations will be reviewed and assessed by an Evaluation Panel, which comprises ICH practitioners, academics, leaders of community organisations, and representatives from NHB.

For the 2022 Award cycle, the members of the Evaluation Panel are:

Chair Ms Yeoh Chee Yan
Chairman, National Heritage Board
Deputy Chair Ms Chang Hwee Nee
CE, National Heritage Board
Members  Dr Azhar Ibrahim
Department of Malay Studies, NUS
  Mr Chan Kian Kuan
Vice-President, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations
  Ms Julia D’Silva
Representative, Eurasian Association
  Dr Koh Keng We
Department of History, NTU
  Mr Low Sze Wee
CEO, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
  Dr Norshahril Saat
Chairman, Malay Heritage Foundation
  Mr Rajakumar Chandra
Chairman, Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association
  Ms Serene Lim
Director (Sector Development – Performing Arts), NAC
  Mdm Som Said
Artistic Director, Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts
  Ms Sunitha Janamohanan
Lecturer, LASALLE College of the Arts
  Mr Victor Yue
Exco Member, Singapore Heritage Society
  Prof Vineeta Sinha
Department of Sociology and South Asian Studies, NUS

Contact OR 6982 1173.