The National Heritage Board (NHB) launched its Stewards of Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Award in a bid to give due recognition to lesser-known individuals or groups and to encourage and sustain them in passing on their skills and knowledge to the next generation.
Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Communications and Information, Ms Sim Ann, made the announcement on Wednesday (Oct 30) during the NHB’s ICH symposium at the Asian Civilisations Museum.
The award hopes to increase public awareness of intangible cultural heritage, that includes social practices, rituals and festive events, performing arts, food heritage, traditional craftsmanship, as well as oral traditions and expressions.
The award is a significant component of Our SG Heritage Plan, Singapore’s master plan for the heritage sector.
Important part of Singaporeans’ identity
Mr Yeo Kirk Siang, director of heritage research and assessment at NHB, said: “We recognise that intangible cultural heritage is an important part of our way of life and our identity as Singaporeans. So we are launching various initiatives to help safeguard that and to help recognise the practitioners.”
On the other hand Ms Sim elaborated that “From traditional artists and craftsmen, to participants and scholars of our social practices, rituals and festivals, such practitioners are critical to keep our ICH vibrant and sustainable, and to ensure that they are passed down to future generations.
“I encourage everyone to help identify potential Stewards of Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, and nominate them for the award at the NHB website.”
Practitioners have to be individuals, groups, or organisations with at least 10 years of experience in the field and are a respected, recognised member of the practising community.
They should excel in their knowledge of the intangible cultural heritage element and in applying their skills, and are committed to the promotion and transmission of what they practise.
There is a cash award of S$5,000 and the opportunity to tap a project grant of S$20,000 for the transmission and promotion of the practitioner’s skills or knowledge related to the field.
The award will be evaluated by a 12-member panel which includes the Eurasian Association’s chairman Alexius Pereira, the Malay Heritage Foundation’s chairman Norshahril Saat and Mrs Santha Bhaskar, artistic director of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy.
NHB added that the award was conceptualised in consultation with a diverse range of people across focus group discussions held in 2017.
Their practice must also already be part of Singapore’s ICH inventory. It cannot involve the direct propagation of a religion but can be part of a religious festival.
NHB will also work with each of the winners to research and document their craft and showcase their skills at its events such as the yearly Singapore Heritage Festival.
Nominations can be submitted on NHB’s website by Jan 31 next year.