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Q1: The Arts in Singapore have become too commercialised. Comment.
Understanding the question (in this case, commercialised) To do well candidates and we are not expecting many) should not interpret ‘commercialised simply as being commoditised and sold for profits. They should examine the extent to which the Arts in Singapore have been exploited or spoiled to make profits.
1. For eg, candidates could point out/acknowledge that there is a (perceived) trend of the Arts in Singapore gradually becoming commercialised, evidenced by local artists/arts groups churning out more accessible productions and enjoying commercial success (albeit modest), for example, the generally well received annual Singapore Arts Festival, the Dim Sum Dollies franchise (which has to date spawned several sequels since its inception in 2002) and blockbusters such as 881.
2. More artists are collaborating with commercial entities to fund projects, for example, Dim Sum Dollies and CK Tang Departmental Store, NEX, etc.
3. Commercial entities support the Arts as part of their marketing or public relations strategy, for example, MI Singapore Fringe Festival 2010, the 2010 Singapore Arts Festival sponsored by Coke Light, VivoCity, et cetera (in fact, the festival collected S$1.73 million in cash sponsorship in 2010, up from S$1.57 million last year].
4. It should also be noted that there is a small but growing pool of local art investors (not collectors).
5. However, it would be unfair to say that the local arts community is a sellout / has lost its integrity or that Singaporeans do not appreciate the Arts for its artistic value.
Some artists choose to remain independent and not seek support from commercial entities (and even if they do get sponsorship, they strive) to preserve their artistic freedom and integrity, for example, up and coming local filmmakers such as Loo Zihan, Boo Junfeng, etc. Singapore Film Commission continues to keep the annual Singapore International Film Festival alive amid financial woes in order to showcase and recognize outstanding local and Asian independent, non commercial films.
6. Is commercialization really such a dirty word?
Artists need to sustain themselves financially in order to fund their creative pursuits. Artists may also benefit by aligning themselves with commercial bodies that bring their works to the public via the marketplace; it is a win-win situation.
Q2: “All art is useless (Oscar Wilde).” Comment.
It is an indisputable fact that art plays an extremely important role in our daily life. This is because we have realised that it is essential to the preservation of our more austere and connotative side. It is through art that human beings are able to find a common ground of appreciation and acknowledgement. In one sense, art is already an integral part of our lives.
We must recognise that without art, our daily life would be one that is monotonous, bland and meaningless. Nowadays, science and technology have diluted our lives, and the obsession with achieving economic track has turned many of us into slaves of money. People are mostly concerned with attaining status, power and fame. Being too preoccupied with keeping themselves ahead of the rat race and abreast of the current trend, they simply find them selves bogged down in a quagmire where life is only an empty sheet of paper deprived of all colours, that will become torn and tattered with the merciless onslaught of time. But fortunately, many have not forgotten art and through art, they are rejuvenated and given a new lease of life. Art brings colours to their dark and bleak world, and it is these colours that people find meaning in life. In this respect, art is not to be viewed as useless. In fact, art is a profession by itself and brings in the dough.
(Since the last 2010 decades, a new type of cryptocurrency, aka Non Fungible Tokens or NFTs, have made artists and painters multi-millionaires, practically overnight!)
Art enables us to display our creativity, innovativeness, our passion for novelty. People involve themselves in painting, sculpture, photography and other forms of artistic creativity because it is only then that they can let their minds soar high and their ideas ran freely in the wild. Injecting life into art forms can serve as windows to our inner worlds.
An important form of art is music. The existence of music is wonderful, even miraculous. “Its domain lies somewhere between thought and phenomena. Like a twilight mediator, it hovers between spirit and matter, relating to both, yet differing from each”, someone remarked of it. Indeed, music soothes our heart, calms our mind, and brings us into a world of imagination. Mozart’s serenade and concertos, Haydn’s symphonies, Tchaikovsky’s ballet music all serve the same purpose. Indeed, all art cannot never be regarded as useless to us. In fact, Art is spirit, as well as matter. It is spirit, but spirit not subjected to the measurement of time. Similarly it is matter. but matter that can dispense with space. This magical aspect of art should be something we must treasure, and not simply label it as some pernicious and undesirable.
Art epitomises man’s wisdom and his innate ability to put his ideas thoughts and perceptions into evocative symbols or representatives that transmit certain meaningful messages. Undoubtedly, it enhances interaction between people in the sense that people can communicate through time and space through those art pieces and works. With out art, interpersonal relationships can never be fostered, since all of people’s endeavours and pursuits would be centred or based on materialistic attainments and sati faction. Therefore, art is useful to us in that it closes the gap and fills up the chasm between people, thus bringing them together. Of course, one need not be sensitive, erudite or have the minds or eyes of a connoisseur to appreciate art. In fact, art is all around us, and even in its most pristine and simplest form, it can make us realize that there is a value to living, depending only on whether we are observant or not. Thus, art has a value and that value often manifests itself in its usefulness.
Of course, there are some forms of art that do not enhance our lives, but have detrimental effects on us. Examples of these are pornography and unhealthy drawings, caricatures and portrayals that are done for defamatory or inflammatory purposes or to arouse and stimulate those undesirable feelings latent in us. In addition, decadent music will lead to degeneracy that have adverse psycho logical influences on the individual. These forms of art should definitely not be encouraged and propagated among the masses. But they constitute only a minor portion of all those things encompassed in the realm and sphere of art. Oscar Wilde’s “All art is useless” is certainly an overstatement and implies an attitude too intransigient. The word ‘Art’ and its contents should not be seen as totally useless or even sordid just because some forms of art are useless, or are to some extent, undesirable due to the fact that their degree of utilization is limited and their nature questionable.
Since art has been passed on from one generation to generation another, it is apparent to us that unless it possesses certain qualities that are worth preserving, it could not have became the legacy of mankind. With due consideration to this, should we look at the picture from a broad perspective and recognise its real value and use fulness instead of combing it inch by inch for its flaws and stigmas?
(link to quote by Oscar Wilde: All Art is quite useless.)
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