Monday, August 15, 2011

Singapore Theatre Festival 2011

I am a donor to the theatre company, W!ld Rice. I think there are many things that can be said or expressed through theatre about issues of the day, without offending prevailing sensitivities.

W!ld Rice has, in recent years, earned a name for itself in this regard. One of the ways it does so is through its biennial Singapore Theatre Festival, which started in 2006. The Straits Times interviewed me about this development then.

W!ld Rice has been so effective in its work that the National Arts Council wanted to send a negative message to W!ld Rice about this so it snipped the funds it gives W!ld Rice last year. Donors like me wanted to send a message to the National Arts Council so we increased our donations.

Perhaps, the Government now realises that it must provide such space for critical views if it wants to avoid losing more seats in Parliament.

In a sign of changing times last weekend, a sitting Minister decided to address theatre-goers at the festival. He discussed a range of issues with representatives from civil society and opposition parties.

Even the Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers made his presence felt by attending the performance immediately before the Minister addressed the festival.

Perhaps, the National Arts Council will now revisit its decision to cut W!ld Rice's access to necessary funds.

Dharmendra Yadav

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