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Singapore’s Substation Announces Permanent Closure

Singapore’s Substation Announces Permanent Closure


Singapore’s Substation Announces Permanent Closure

Singapore’s Substation, the city-state’s first independent multidisciplinary venue, announced today that it will close for good after vacating its Armenian Street space, a repurposed power substation for which it was named, at the end of July. The city-state’s National Arts Council (NAC) in 2017 determined that the 1925 building was in need of renovation, and plans were afoot for the organization to depart the premises for the two-year span necessary for the repairs to take place.The Substation opened under NAC’s rental subsidizing Art Housing Scheme, which in 2011 was changed to the Framework for Arts Space; in an effort to address the lack of physical space for Singapore’s burgeoning arts scene, the newer initiative hews to a multitenant model. Though the Substation and the NAC had been in talks for several years, with the NAC offering interim space during the organization’s exile, it was only last month that Substation organizers learned that upon their return they would not be granted the sole tenancy they had enjoyed since their founding in 1990 but would have to share the building with an unnamed number of arts organizations.Citing difficulties, exacerbated by Covid-19, in securing long-term private funding, and claiming that their inability to occupy the entire space would result in a “loss of identity and heritage” as well as a loss of income from theater and gallery hire, the Substation’s board made the decision to close the operation. NAC deputy chief executor of planning and corporate development Paul Tan in a statement acknowledged the Substation’s contribution to Singapore’s arts scene, especially its support for young artists and experimental art forms, but emphasized that space for arts organizations was at a premium and that the NAC wished to foster a “diversity of art forms and voices in the sector.” Noting that “there is certainly no intention to displace groups which are contributing to the community and larger society,” Tan asserted that there was “no reason why the Substation’s vision needs to be tied to a brick-and-mortar building.”“With our closure, we hope that other arts organizations in Singapore will continue to carry the torch to give budding artists a safe space in which to experiment and develop their art,” said Substation chair Chew Kheng Chuan in a statement. “We also hope that the NAC will take a chance on young, unproven, passionate artists, and support the work of independent arts incubator spaces that have been vital to these artists, as it did for the Substation through the prior thirty years.” The organization has confirmed that its records have been preserved and that they will be made available to the public once they are properly archived.


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