Our SG Heritage Plan (Update)

Our SG Heritage Plan is a comprehensive national masterplan co-created with the community for the future of Singapore’s heritage and museum sector. This inaugural plan sets out long-term objectives until 2030, with a first five-year instalment covering 2018 to 2022. The recommendations of the plan build on the existing work and achievements of our heritage and museum sector. $66 million has been set aside to implement this plan, to ensure that our shared heritage is safeguarded and promoted for future generations.

Over the course of 2016 and 2017, the National Heritage Board (NHB) reached out to more than 34,000 Singaporeans from all walks of life through interviews, focus group discussions, travelling exhibitions and our website for their views on the plan. The conversation continues and will go towards shaping the plan in the long-term.

The four key themes of the plan, and their strategies and initiatives are:

1. Our Places: The places where we live, work and play in form our tangible heritage and hold many shared memories. Much has been achieved in this area, but the plan will develop strategies to further safeguard and promote our tangible heritage such as: increasing appreciation and understanding of our heritage through the inclusion and infusion of heritage into everyday spaces (e.g., National Monuments, conserved sites, heritage trails, playgrounds); incorporating heritage considerations early in development plans; and strengthening research and documentation of our built heritage.

2. Our Cultures: We will enhance measures to better safeguard our cultures, traditions, rituals, festivals, food, etc that make up our intangible cultural heritage. They are the thread of continuity that connect our present to the richness of our past, and must be safeguarded and extended into the future.

3. Our Treasures: Our museums and their collections share the story of Singapore’s history and heritage, as well as our connections to the world. We will develop and present more “curated-by-Singapore” content, so that they resonate with Singaporeans. We will also focus on making our museums more accessible and inclusive social spaces as heritage is for everyone. Our long-term vision is to develop connected, inclusive and inspiring museums, and a strong museum-going culture.

4. Our Communities: Our heritage is the thread that binds us together as a community, and everyone can play a part in shaping it for future generations. Our SG Heritage Plan aspires to promote greater community ownership over our shared heritage, such as through supporting more ground-up initiatives; facilitating intercommunity understanding; engaging underserved communities; reaching out though technology; and encouraging volunteerism and giving.

On 22 February 2018, Singapore ratified the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which paves the way for an element of our intangible cultural heritage to be listed on UNESCO’s Representative List. In the coming months, NHB will working on establishing an intangible cultural heritage inventory that will reflect our diverse, multicultural intangible cultural heritage. Singaporeans will also be invited to share elements of intangible cultural heritage that resonate with them, and contribute to the inventory.

As part of the plan, we will also be refining the NHB Act in the next two years to better support the preservation of both our tangible and intangible heritage, and to safeguard our archaeological heritage more effectively.

Our SG Heritage Plan will be launched in April during the Singapore Heritage Festival 2018.

Making Our Museums and Heritage Institutions More Accessible and Inclusive

Access to our heritage and museums must be for all, as our heritage belongs to everyone. NHB aims to make our museums and institutions even more inclusive and accessible to the community, including those who might not have the resources or ability to visit them – such as persons-with-disabilities (PWDs), seniors and lower-income families.

  • In 2016, alongside free entry for Singaporeans and PRs to all NHB museums and institutions, we announced free entry for PWDs and their primary caregivers. Under Our SG Heritage Plan, we will conduct an accessibility audit of our museums and institutions to identify universal design solutions and assistive technologies for different groups.

  • Under Our SG Heritage Plan, more initiatives will also be developed to promote active ageing and to encourage inter-cultural and cross-generational interaction. For instance, our heritage institutions – the Malay Heritage Centre, Indian Heritage Centre and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall — will serve as ‘Silver Hubs’ to promote active ageing. The institutions seek to be the focal point of each community and a way to represent Singapore’s diversity.

    Active ageing programmes, such as the Conversation Starter Kit launched last year at the heritage institutions, will also be designed in partnership with relevant stakeholders to improve the physical and mental well-being of our seniors. In addition, there will also be opportunities for seniors to volunteer as guides and facilitators in galleries or be active participants in programmes.

  • Complementing these initiatives is the continuation of HeritageCares, NHB’s philanthropic initiative that serves to achieve our goal of having our museums and heritage programmes be inclusive and accessible to all, especially the underserved communities. It seeks to provide underserved segments of our society greater access to meaningful experiences that encourage family bonding, enhance social skills, provide quality educational experiences and promote active ageing.

    Since the launch of HeritageCares in March 2016, over 200 programmes have been organised, engaging over 1,600 volunteers and serving about 8,000 participants ranging from low income families, PWDs, youths-at-risk and senior citizens. The programmes include specially tailored programmes such as guided tours of museum exhibitions and heritage trails, educational workshops and craft activities.