The Substation Will Close In Jul 2021 When NAC Reclaims Building For Renovation Works
(Update, 3 Mar): The National Arts Council (NAC) has issued a statement saying that though they’re disappointed by The Substation’s permanent closure, it will nonetheless respect the board’s decision.
An official summary of the statement can be found below.
Singaporeans who are fans of the arts would surely be familiar with the Substation, our nation’s first contemporary arts centre that’s located in our civic district.
Having housed countless exhibitions, gigs, and performances over the years, the arts centre will sadly be closing for good come July.
This came after the arts centre was required to vacate its current premises and could only return as one of several co-tenants 2 years later.
The Substation will lose identity if not allowed to fully occupy building
In a press release on its website, the Substation said that it will be closing in Jul 2021 when the National Arts Council (NAC) reclaims the space at 45 Armenian Street for renovation purposes.
Explaining the decision, the Substation shared that it will only be allowed to return as one of several co-tenants 2 years later when the works are done. They will not be able to occupy the entire building.
The Substation’s Board of Directors has identified 2 areas of concern in light of this development.
Firstly, the building on Armenian Street is reportedly key to the Substation’s identity, since the arts centre had occupied it since its opening in 1990.
Since it will not be given full occupancy of the building, the Board said that the Substation will be “losing (lose) a fundamental part of its identity and heritage”.
The board also shared that the Substation will be losing autonomy over the building’s facilities that are paramount to its mission of supporting the arts.
The ‘partial occupancy will also lead to “loss of income” from venue hiring.
Arts centre also heavily impacted by Covid-19 pandemic
There are, of course, other considerations taken into account before arriving at the decision to close.
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For one, the arts centre has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to fundraising — which it relies heavily on.
Donors have also been “understandably cautious” when directing funds, which further exacerbates the Substation’s situation.
With the Substation’s imminent closure, Chairman Chew Kheng Chuan urges other art organisations in Singapore pick up the baton in giving up-and-coming artists a safe space to showcase their art.
They also hope NAC will offer opportunities to unproven yet passionate talents and continue to support other art incubator spaces in Singapore.
Armenian Street facility will remain a safe space for artists
Later in the day, NAC issued a statement addressing The Substation’s permanent closure.
In their statement, NAC said that even though it is disappointed with the art centre’s decision to close, the facility along Armenian Street will remain a “a safe space for artistic experimentation” and will continue supporting budding artists.
Here’s a summary of the statement, courtesy of a NAC spokesperson:
We are disappointed by the announcement from the Board of The Substation
on their decision to close the company permanently. The Substation has been
a Major Company with a long history of more than 30 years. It has had a rich
history and has contributed significantly to the cultural scene in Singapore.
The Substation has been aware of the decision to renovate 45 Armenian Street
since 2017. There have been constructive discussions throughout this time,
most recently, when NAC met with the Board of The Substation on 15 February
Throughout these engagements, NAC has emphasised that it would like for The
Substation to continue its role as an arts incubator. Two key matters have been
discussed – the use of 45 Armenian Street, and continued support for The
Substation to enable it to contribute to our arts ecosystem.
Sad to see The Substation go
Having showcased art displays and performances for the past 3 decades, it’s certainly sad to see the Substation riding into the sunset.
Are you a frequent visitor of the Substation? Share some of your fondest memories with us in the comments below!
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Featured image adapted from Google Maps.