Netizens’ Responses To Art Project On Hawker Centres Show That Singaporeans Are Too Money-Minded

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Project to ‘artsify’ hawker centres derided by netizens

A new project aiming to bring art to hawker centres by putting up murals and art installations has been criticized by netizens for wasting money.

This project is jointly organised by the National Environment Agency and National Heritage Board in partnership with the National Arts Council and Nippon Paint Singapore, and will combine the efforts of more than 70 schools, organisations and artists for the art works.

The project aims to preserve the heritage of hawker centres while adding interesting elements of art, and highlight the relocation of street hawkers to hawker centres.

Comments by netizens seemed totally against the idea, claiming that the money should be used to help hawkers in other ways because of rising costs in rent and food.

Here are some of the comments:

1. Subsidise eating costs

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2. Can art be eaten?

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3. Singaporeans are in the midst of a hunger strike

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4. Cleanliness > Art

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5. Rental > Art

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6. Unpractical

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I suppose watching Naruto is a very practical activity.

7. The money should go to hiring more cleaners instead

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Did he not read LHL’s post about cleaning up after ourselves?

It’s all about the money

Somehow, in our material pursuits, we as a nation have forgotten that there is more to life than making money and spending it.

Someone even had to comment that the project isn’t even funded by taxpayer money because Nippon Paint is sponsoring the paint.

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These comments were unfortunately in the minority and shows just how little Singaporeans care about the arts, despite there being many enthusiastic students involved in the project.

We can raise all the issues about rental costs and cleanliness to the authorities (and these are valid issues, mind you), but forgoing the arts is not the solution. 

There is a distinct lack of attention being given to the students who are given the opportunity to contribute to sprucing up a unique aspect of our country: hawker centres. These students get to leave a mark on a historical part of our country and all people care about is whether the food is cheap enough.

It seems like Singaporeans have become way too practical, counting every cent as if it belongs solely to them. For Singaporeans, arts belong at the Esplanade and nowhere else.

There is more to life than money

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In schools, art as a subject is graded the same way as other subjects, but art is by nature, subjective. This puts pressure on students to deliver a piece which agrees with the teacher’s notion of art, instead of being allowed to exert their creative muscles. When you consider how art is taught in schools, it comes as no surprise that parents do not see the arts as anything more than an unpractical waste of time. This is despite the Government’s attempts at erasing this notion by building the School of the Arts and having all these arts projects. The arts problem has to be arrested in schools, when children are developing their interests.

We can thank Lee Kuan Yew all we want for the life we have now, but if that life is spent purely on fixating on monetary issues, how thankful are we, really? Remember it was him who proposed that street hawkers be moved to hawker centres as the streets were dirty and hawkers needed to be regulated in terms of cleanliness.

Something makes me think that somewhere, he went wrong in the emphasis on being pragmatic and educated. We have become too apathetic to everything besides money, only caring about material possessions, and this could not have been his vision for Singapore.

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Featured image via Wikipedia Commons
With references from Channel NewsAsia

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