SINGAPORE — The National Arts Council (NAC) claims in a statement on its website that an article by TODAY about a queer-themed arts performance misreports comments by its chief executive officer, Mr Low Eng Teong. The statement also claims that his responses were taken out of context and as a result, the article is misleading.
The article was published on Sept 30.
Several hours after publication, NAC asked for the headline to be changed so as not to angle on Mr Low. TODAY agreed to use a headline that captured a broader set of views. An Editor’s Note was added to alert readers to the change.
TODAY is releasing the transcript of the recording of the interview with the NAC CEO to allow readers to judge for themselves.
Queer-tai was among a series of arts performances commissioned by Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The performance was an alternative version of the traditional heartland “getai” shows, and featured drag queens singing and playing the trombone to the tune of evergreen National Day theme song Home. It was held at Gillman Barracks and was open to the public.
The group that staged Queer-tai, Intervention, describes itself as “a queer party collective”.
Mr Low attended the anniversary event as the guest of honour. He spoke to TODAY on the sidelines.
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW
TODAY: The whole programme is quite diverse and everything, but it’s notable that one of them is Queer-tai, right? Which is like…
NAC CEO: Which is what, sorry?
TODAY: This ongoing one is Queer-Tai, right, which touches on the theme of LGBT, and it portrays their identity and all that. So we’re just wondering, in your view, like having more LGBTQ themed art pieces and all that in the mainstream and institutional spaces, do you think that is something significant?
NAC CEO: I… Because I haven’t seen the work.
TODAY: But broadly, I guess having more of such pieces in our institutional spaces and also in our mainstream spaces, do you find it significant?
NAC CEO: I think it’s… I think artists explore all types of topics and themes and you know issues in their work so I think that is something that is to be expected, in terms of it could be you know whole broad (sic) of — artists will always want to — Artists will want to make work that speaks to our times.
TODAY: So it is something that you think is to be expected? So it’s nothing out of the ordinary and is ongoing is it? Is that your view?
NAC CEO: Hmm, how do I say ah? I think… We we know.. I mean as I said, we know that… It is for artists to be interested in issues like climate change, environmental, social issues, the different kinds of events, world events happening around the world and how it affects our lives, so I think this part and parcel of the natural process of art.
TODAY: Right. And the fact that it’s held at a school related kind of event or school endorsed event when typically I mean it’s in specific art spaces, right, but to have it at NTU CCA?
NAC CEO: For this particular… I mean …
NTU representative: Maybe (Prof) Ute (Meta Bauer) will be in better position…
NAC CEO: Ya (Prof) Ute (Meta Bauer) … Because she’s in the academic scene.
TODAY: Thank you so much Mr Low.
NAC CEO: Thanks for your interest. But I think (Prof) Ute will be… I mean (Prof) Ute has been working with many of the artists.