Welcome Remarks by Ms Jennifer Lewis, Chairman of SIF Arts for Good Advisory Panel, at Singapore Insights: Without Culture, There is No Future for Cities

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to this edition of Singapore Insights - ‘Without Culture, There is no Future for Cities’.

The challenges that many cities around the globe face today are multi-tiered, cutting across diverse issues.  Education, water management, governance and building inclusive societies are some common sustainable development issues faced by the modern city.  Many global thought leaders believe that solutions to these issues lie within the heart of cities.  Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO said this, “Cities are also one of humanity’s most brilliant inventions for crafting solutions for the future. Fundamentally, cities bring together creative and productive people, helping them to do what they do best: exchange, create and innovate.” 

While many agree that we should and must place our trust in cities to address developmental issues, they also agree that culture lies at the heart of urban renewal and the creation of thriving cities.  According to a 2015 World Cities Culture Report, while culture plays a part in the economic growth, both as a sector in its own right and through supporting innovation and soft power, there are also concerns that economic success can have negative consequences, like overstretched infrastructure or social inequality.

We bring the discourse home this afternoon to look at culture as a key aspect of sustainable urban living, which includes social inclusion, environmental stewardship and economic growth.

Bringing people together to share knowledge and ideas so that we can foster understanding, strengthen ties, and even spark collaborations is something we do at the SIF.  To this end, we are pleased to partner ArtsWok, an arts-based community development organization, to bring together a diverse panel of speakers from across the people, private and public sectors.  

Among our panel of speakers, we have Ms Esther An from City Developments Limited, Mr Cheng Hsing Yao from GuocoLand Singapore, Dr Chong Keng Hua from COLOURS: Collectively Ours, Ms Chua Ai Liang from National Arts Council and Dr Hoe Su Fern from the Singapore Management University. They will be moderated by Straits Times journalist, Ms Akshita Nanda. Dr Hoe, together with Ms Ko Siew Huey, Co-Founder and Director, ArtsWok Collaborative, will be leading the breakout sessions to further deepen the conversations with you.

Socially-engaged Singaporean artists such as Alecia Neo, Jasmine Tan, Koh Hui Ling, Han Xuemei and Ngiam Su-Lin will also share lessons on arts and culture-based community practices in that they have seen and studied here in Singapore, as well as in the USA. SIF is proud to have supported their recent study trip and cross cultural exchange showcase to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. I am sure they have brought back much insight to enrich the discussion today.

We believe that sustainable urban living requires the input and action of diverse stakeholders. We are grateful for the support given by our network partners such asthe American Embassy, MASIS, EuroCham and British Club for the support given to us for this chapter of Singapore Insights.

Representing SIF, I hope the exchange of perspectives and sharing of good practices today will foster a co-creation of ideas towards a more sustainable urban future. Like you, I am looking forward to an engaging, insightful afternoon of discourse to build future cities that we can all be proud of.  Thank you.



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