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SINGAPORE    High & Low Tides


    FrontPage Edition: Fri 3 Apr 2009



Incorporation of the National Art Gallery



Speech by RAdm (NS) Lui Tuck Yew Senior Minister of State for Education, and Information, Communications and the Arts Incorporation of the National Art Gallery, Singapore Tuesday, 17 March 2009, 11.00am

Good morning and thank you for attending this morning’s media conference.
Incorporation of The National Art Gallery, Singapore
First, I will like to announce the incorporation of The National Art Gallery, Singapore. We established The National Art Gallery as a company limited by guarantee on 16 January 2009. The Gallery will have full operational autonomy and its own board, to allow it the necessary flexibility to be a nimble and effective organisation, and help fulfill its ambitions in becoming a world-class visual arts institution.
The National Heritage Board (NHB) will have oversight of the National Art Gallery. This arrangement ensures accountability for its performance, financial discipline and responsible management. At the same time, the Gallery would also be able to tap on and contribute to the national collection, which is under NHB’s charge. With the Gallery under the NHB family of museums, there is greater synergy in the sharing of resources in terms of expertise, capabilities and networks, as well as joint shows and festivals.
Museum director search and key NAG appointments
Let me now provide an update on the key NAG appointments as this core team will be responsible to drive the project. As you would recall, more than a year ago, my colleague Dr Balaji announced that a museum director search was launched for the Gallery. MICA then formed a Search Committee, headed by Mr Koh Seow Chuan. Over a period of a year, the Search Committee went over more than 170 resumes of local and international candidates, and eventually interviewed a shortlist of six.
At the end of that process, the Committee recommended for the National Art Gallery to be headed by a chief executive officer, who will set the direction and focus for the Gallery, and lead the Gallery as a company, similar to that of The Esplanade. The CEO will work closely with a Director, who is someone with a deep knowledge of the diverse Southeast Asian art forms, significant curatorial experience and well-respected, both domestically and internationally, for expertise in these areas. The Committee recommended two names for these positions.
It is my pleasure to announce Mr Michael Koh as CEO of The National Art Gallery. Michael, who is the CEO of the National Heritage Board, possesses the appropriate and necessary leadership and management skills for this job. Under his guidance over the last few years, NHB has risen to new heights and won new audiences locally and internationally. He will now head both the Gallery and NHB concurrently.
Michael will be ably supported by Mr Kwok Kian Chow, the Director of the Gallery. Kian Chow, who is currently Director of the Singapore Art Museum, is a known and trusted figure in local and international art circles. He has wide experience in developing curatorial content and possesses a deep passion and knowledge of Singapore and Southeast Asian art.
We congratulate both Michael and Kian Chow on their new appointments.
Next Steps
The immediate next step for the Gallery is to set up a Board of Directors. MICA and NHB have assembled an interim Board, comprising key members from existing National Art Gallery committees and the Singapore Art Museum board. I have asked Mr Koh Seow Chuan to chair this Board and oversee this early phase of the project. Concurrently, Michael and Kian Chow are starting to put together a strong team, commencing with the recruitment for key management positions.
We have also recently appointed an independent Design Review Panel, comprising prominent experts from the fields of building architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering, to help us review the architectural and engineering proposals submitted by our architects. This due diligence process ensures transparency and is part of our on-going efforts to engage and consult widely with the experts and the public. And we intend to continue this process over the coming years.
A place for all
The City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings are prominent monuments in the cityscape and landmarks in the hearts and minds of Singaporeans. We want to celebrate their rich architectural heritage, cultural and historical significance. At the same time, we will create a new institution – one that is distinct in its identity as a leading art gallery, a vibrant civic and creative space for all to enjoy. We want to endear the National Art Gallery to Singaporeans and visitors alike, and we want to make this a place that is accessible to everyone.
In our plans, we intend to create several spaces where visitors will enjoy free access. These include the Singapore Art Gallery dedicated to showcasing Singapore art and our rich art heritage, as well as a unique Children’s Museum, perhaps the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, specially designed and programmed for school children and families. Singaporeans and visitors will also enjoy a large rooftop plaza with many public spaces, populated with a variety of restaurants and art installations, and alive with public programmes. This will be a civic piazza in the sky with great views of the Padang, Marina Bay and beyond. Other exhibition spaces housing permanent and rotating exhibitions will be ticketed.
We envision the National Art Gallery to be an accessible place brimming with energy and activity. Through our efforts, we hope the Gallery will allow us to learn more about Singapore and Southeast Asian art in fresh, vibrant and meaningful ways.
On behalf of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, I would once again like to congratulate Michael and Kian Chow on your appointments. I wish you all the best as you lead this new institution.
I will now pass the time to Michael, CEO-Designate for the National Art Gallery, Singapore, to update you on the progress of the project, and share with you some of the critical milestones ahead. Thank you.

Source: Press Release 17 Mar 2009

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