Best of the arts 2015

We round up the top highlights of this year's cultural calendar
National Gallery Singapore
Photo: National Gallery Singapore
By Benita Lee and Gwen Pew |
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HOTEL by W!LD RICE
Photo: Albert Lim KS, courtesy of W!LD RICE

Best theatre festival

Singapore International Festival of Arts

Helmed by festival director Ong Keng Sen, the Singapore International Festival of Arts returned this year with a theme of 'Post-Empires', a decidedly local flavour and an ambitious mini dance festival on top of it all. We especially loved Wild Rice’s Hotel and Drama Box's It Won't Be Long – The Lesson.

Thomas Pang

Up-and-coming actor

Thomas Pang

He's 24 years old and just finishing up his final year at LASALLE, but we were very impressed with Thomas Pang in his professional debut earlier this year. Taking on the role as Billy in Pangdemonium’s production of Tribes, he was quietly confident and portrayed a difficult character convincingly. We'll be keeping our eye on this rising star for sure.

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Sukki Singapora

Biggest arts hero

Sukki Singapora

Sukki Singapora is beautiful, brainy and brave. Not only did she teach herself the art of burlesque by watching YouTube videos, she took on the Singapore legal system and convinced the authorities to legalise the dance form earlier this year. On top of that, she's set up a programme to bring arts to underprivileged and vulnerable kids. Can we love this lady any more?

Art after Dark

Best new arts series

Art after Dark

Gillman Barracks is quiet on most days, but the arts cluster comes alive at Art after Dark, a bi-monthly party that brings together visual art, music, performances, guided tours and talks. Paintings are always easier to digest with a glass of wine and a burger, we say.

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National Gallery Singapore
Photo: National Gallery Singapore

Best new arts venue

National Gallery Singapore

Here's a no-brainer. The National Gallery is without a doubt the most important addition to the Singapore visual arts scene this year. Spanning a whopping 64,000 square metres, it's home to thousands of works by local and regional artists from the 19th and 20th centuries.

7 Letters

Best local film

7 letters

In what might also take the prize for Best SG50 Celebration, seven homegrown filmmakers gathered in July to release seven paeans to the city. The resulting anthology of shorts, dubbed 7 Letters, brought waves of nostalgia, with tales of family, relationships, local folklore and memories of a bygone Singapore.

The likes of Eric Khoo, Royston Tan, Tan Pin Pin and Jack Neo participated, but our favourite was Kelvin Tong’s Grandma Positioning System. It gave us mirthful moments, bawl-your-eyes-out tenderness and an exploration of the cleft between the traditional and the modern – all in just a few minutes.

The 7 Letters limited edition DVD box set is available at the Objectifs Retail Store for $200.

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The Projector

Best contribution to local cinema

The Projector

This is the indie cinema Singapore has been dreaming of. The Projector took two halls of a historic theatre, built in 1973, and revamped it into the hip place to bring your out-of-town friends to. It screens everything from cult films to auteur retrospectives to Asian titles that other mainstream cinemas don't, and it hosts talks, workshops and gigs, too. And which other cinema in Singapore stocks craft beers for you to sip on while catching a flick?
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