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Creative shifts and directions: Cultural policy in Singapore

Lee, T.ORCID: 0000-0003-3333-0076 (2004) Creative shifts and directions: Cultural policy in Singapore. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 10 (3). pp. 281-299.

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The availability and “readiness” of culture as a mode of governmental control makes cultural policy a matter of great importance in any contemporary society. This is true not only in liberal democracies with established arts councils or cultural policies, it is also proactively pursued by a technologically advanced yet illiberal regime like Singapore, eager to position itself as the global “Renaissance City” of the twenty‐first century. What this “renaissance” model entails remains highly cryptic, not least because cultural terms and political markers are often elusive, but also because the very concept of “cultural policy” shifts along with the political and economic tides in Singapore. Drawing on a rarely cited essay by Raymond Williams, this article offers an historical look at cultural policy in Singapore – from its first articulation in 1978 to its present standing under the rubric of “creative industries” (2002). It considers some of the problems encountered and the societal changes made to accommodate Singapore’s new creative direction, all for the sake of ensuring Singapore’s continued economic dynamism. This article contends that cultural policy in Singapore now involves extracting creative energies – and economies – out of each loosely termed “creative worker” by heralding the economic potential of the arts, media, culture and the creative sectors, but concomitantly marking boundaries of political exchange. In this regard, culture in Singapore has become more than ever a site for governmentality and control.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
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