Singapore has largely contained Covid-19 at the time of publishing, with the regular number of locally transmitted cases hovering in the single digits. Authorities also launched a nationwide vaccination campaign, with the aim of inoculating the whole population by the end of the year.
In certain cases, life seems to have returned to normal. Malls, schools and eateries are open while precautions such as wearing a mask in public and restricting group meetings to eight people stay in force.
After shutting their gates during the first surge last year, galleries and museums are reopening with reduced capacity. However, several have moved on from analogue iterations and launched multimedia projects that have become thrilling permanent features of Singapore's cultural landscape.
Some of my favourite places in Singapore's cultural scene have also had to adjust to the new realities, as well as activities I've rediscovered in a world of sealed boundaries, such as walks to explore secret corners of the city I live in, are included in the list below.
National Gallery Singapore
While the National Gallery lacks an intimate feel, it does have a diverse mix of art and food and beverage spaces, and a lovely museum shop. This is Singapore's largest visual-arts venue, housed in the former City Hall and Supreme Court.
The National Gallery has many exhibition rooms, bars and restaurants, and other amenities. The National Gallery is among the first cultural hubs in Singapore that I became fond of and to which I often return.
It's a perfect place to see the world's largest public exhibition of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern art, as well as to do so in a grand building with much natural light streaming in through the glass ceilings, and which is quiet and peaceful even on weekends.
The museum initiated a series of multimedia initiatives during lockdown last year, including virtual tours, podcasts, and an online children's festival. It also broadcast live creative workshops and performances on social media, allowing it to engage audiences beyond the museum's walls to reach new and existing audiences both locally and internationally, and will continue to do so after Covid-19.
The museum is also combining digital and physical activities to run events like the Children's Biennale, which will feature both online and on-site art installations and will begin in May.
As the world and Singapore grow, the museum, as a government institution, will need to keep up, be open to learning from new trends, and adjust our plans as needed to promote the role of art in society.
The Projector, known for its eclectic films, concerts, and festivals, will open a second location on April 30 at a former Chinese disco in Riverside Point, Projector X, an 18-month pop-up theatre and bar.
The Projector is the most well-known art house cinema in Singapore. It's on the fifth floor of a 1970s Brutalist block. The Projector is the island's most well-known independent cinema. With a film collection that ranges from Oscar nominations to local films on migrant workers or queer films, it stands out as a supportive place for film fans, liberals, and the LGBT+ community.
The gritty place, which is located on the fifth floor of Golden Mile Tower, was designed in the 1970s and used to be a Chinese movie theater. Three women who worked at a repurposing company agreed to convert it into The Projector in 2014.
The existing theatre is now mostly intact. There's a feeling of being a part of something with soul and tradition. The cinema hopes to extend a streaming platform with on-demand movies that it released last year at the peak of the pandemic. Along with the physical theatre, Projector Plus has become an essential part of the cinema.
STPI Creative Workshop and Gallery
It is recommended that visitors combine their visit with a walk along the river. where one can marvel at STPI's home, a retrofitted heritage building on the riverbank that was once a British warehouse for goods exchanged through Singapore in the 19th century.
The theme of the gallery is on modern print work. STP is one of Singapore's most diverse contemporary art spaces, focusing on works created with printed paper techniques in partnership with artists from all over the world.
This is part of a larger effort to raise awareness of contemporary Asian printmaking. Despite the fact that woodblock printing originated in Asia centuries ago, STPI's launch in 2002 was still seen as a uniquely Western innovation or tradition. STPI now has a large art gallery on the second floor, as well as a lovely gallery shop with an excellent book collection.
A 1,000-square-meter workshop with printing presses is also housed in the space. STPI also has a 1,000-square-meter workshop with printers and paper mills where, prior to the pandemic, artists from all over the country can come to develop. Artists from Singapore are currently residing in the studio.
Workshops on everything from origami, screen printing, and etching to drypoint photojournalism and intaglio printing are open to the public.
STPI also hosts artist talks, which turned into weekly webinars at the peak of the pandemic last year. These activities are now taking place in person with Singapore-based musicians.