Tuesday, 3 February 2009

National Heritage Board's S$8 Million seed funding

With the country going into the worst recession in its 43-year history, many government agencies are starting to cut costs and review their budgets.

Money matters become sensitive after the Tan Yong Soon case. The rich dare not flaunt their wealth and VVIPs I meet these days say they are playing badminton rather than golf. :)

Singapore, with a population of 4.8 million, has more than 50 museums and still adding. On 29th September 2008, National Heritage Board announced the launch of Hi2P, which stands for Heritage Industry Incentive Programme. This programme provides seed funding of S$8 million over the next five years to those who can come up with new and innovative heritage-inspired products and services.

Will they freeze this fund at such times?

I have been an ardent supporter of NHB. As a young student, I was not brought to any of our museums for a visit. I come from a poor family. I was not taught how to appreciate art. Survival was the only thing on my parents' mind then.

I started visiting museums last year when I was writing blog posts on cool places to visit in Singapore. After more than 40 years of being a Singapore citizen, I finally stepped into a museum.
To me, the museums used to be places for the well-educated and wealthy. I'm not surprised many heartlanders still feel this way. It costs money to visit a museum. If you have a family of 5 or 7, that would be a pricely sum for the less well-off.

Our museums are grand, magnificent structures. The artefacts inside are very valuable. We can only see, cannot touch or else we would not afford to pay for any damages.

Despite huge amounts of money poured into them, and lots of time and effort spent on the exhibits, our museums are frequented by few visitors. When I went to Memories at Old Ford Factory, there were only 4 visitors for the 4 hours I was there. I completed the tour within 40 minutes, but as I was writing articles on the museum, I spent time taking photos and reading all the write-ups of the exhibits.

I am done with visiting Memories at Old Ford Factory. No need to visit it any more.

I visited Asian Civilisation Museum, National Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Peranakan Museum, Hua Song Museum, Mint Museum of Toys, Singapore Philatelic Museum, and heritage institutions like Singapore Discovery Centre, Chinatown Heritage Centre, Civil Defence Heritage Gallery, Malay Heritage Centre etc.

I was planning a project by Association of Bloggers (Singapore) to bring the elderly to visit our museums. I once brought several elderly ladies to National Museum during its free entry for senior citizens on Monday. They come from the heartlands.

When an elderly lady saw the old F&N bottle, she cried. She remembered drinking this soft drink only during Chinese New Year when she was a young child, and she remembered her mother and the hard times in those years. The elderly ladies started opening up and telling me stories of their time. There was so much to learn from them, their experiences, their lives, their family members .... etc. They hold a part of our history.

All these ladies have never visited our museum during their lifetime in Singapore. This is their first and probably last visit. The oldest is 67. They harbour hopes of bringing their grandchildren to visit this museum with them and tell them about their past. I doubt they have the means.

I wonder why money from the Government usually never go down to benefit these people. Nobody notices or they don't care?

My project has been shot down. Even grassroot leaders I approached went 'huh?' at my idea. They have the funds but no one wants to volunteer to bring these people. So much for my caring for the less privileged. You can call it 'kay poh' (busybody).


Aaron Koh said...

How about adding an oral history activity to your proposal?

Bring the senior citizens to the museum, use your mobile phone to record their story they tell and post it on Youtube for posterity.

EastCoastLife said...

Hi Aaron,
Wow. That's a great idea! Thanks.

I will do this.

lina said...

Both your idea & Aaron's are great. I wonder why it is not embraced by the leaders?

EastCoastLife said...

Too many people just want to talk and not take actions.

There is a shortage of volunteers for community work. Universal problem. :)

I'll just do what I can.

sysop said...

Hi this is my first time reading your blog, and i'm impressed that u went the extra mile to prepare a proposal to the grassroot leaders!

Govt takes ages to act on anything. i agree with Aaron that it's faster if we take it upon ourself

EastCoastLife said...

Hi sysop,
We cannot always wait for the Government to do things for the citizens.

They have more important things to do. Getting everyone of us through this tsunami of economic crisis is priority. We should not distract them.

We have to help ourselves. Where I can help myself and my fellow countrymen, I'll just do it.