Tuesday 23 July 2013

$5m grant set up to help fund heritage projects

Aim is to get more to help tell the Singapore story: PM Lee
By Lydia Lim, The Straits Times, 22 Jul 2013

A $5 MILLION grant scheme to encourage Singaporeans to be active in creating heritage content was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Those with good ideas on how to capture and celebrate Singapore's shared heritage through exhibitions, publications, documentaries or mobile apps can apply for the Government to co-fund half their project's cost, up to a cap of $30,000 each time.

PM Lee said he hoped Singaporeans would take full advantage of the grant and lend their voices to telling the Singapore story.

Speaking at the launch of the Singapore HeritageFest, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, he said heritage is essential to peoples and nations.

"It anchors our sense of place and identity. It enables a nation to adapt and to progress as the world changes. It is the yin to the yang of material progress,"he said.

Even as he highlighted the work of the National Heritage Board (NHB) and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in promoting culture and the arts, he stressed that the Government does not own, or define, the Singaporean heritage.

"Our heritage is a collection of individual memories woven into a national story, something that belongs to every Singaporean, which each of us can contribute to and help preserve, individually and collectively," he said.

Parents and grandparents play a vital role, he said, "providing links to our past, passing down convictions, sentiments and values to your children and grandchildren".

The setting for his speech was the National Museum, which was a hive of activity yesterday afternoon as families and tourists alike took part in activities that celebrated games, music, clothes and buildings of old.

In its 10-year history, HeritageFest has evolved from a festival organised by NHB to one "by people from all streams of life, for Singaporeans", NHB chairman Ong Yew Huat said.

This year, 64 partners contributed. Some created heritage trails, while others shared personal possessions close to their heart, he said, "showing how much our heritage resonates with Singaporeans".

Attendance at the festival has doubled from 620,000 in 2004 to 1.3 million last year.

And heritage will become even more important as the country moves ahead, PM Lee said, "as it is clear from Our Singapore Conversation that Singaporeans value not only economic progress, but cultural development too".

Returning to a theme that he first spoke about in his National Day Rally last August, he said: "We want Singapore to be our home with heart and hope. Our home is not just where we live, but where we feel a sense of identity and belonging.

"Having a heart is not just caring for the less fortunate, but feeling at one with our fellow Singaporeans. Hope is not just individual success, but what the future holds for Singapore and the values we hold dear."

Even as they look back and celebrate the past, Singaporeans must also look forward and write new chapters in the Singapore story.

"That way, Singapore will continue to thrive, and offer a brighter future for our children and our children's children," he said.

This year's HeritageFest with the theme "Memories for Tomorrow" is on until Sunday, with events at 10 festival hubs.

Who can apply

THE Heritage Grant Scheme starts on Aug 1, and has $5 million to disburse over four years for two types of projects:

Heritage Participation Grant
- For individuals and groups to engage with and promote heritage.
- Grant quantum ranges from $1,000 to $30,000, or up to 50 per cent of realistic project expenditure, whichever is less (30 per cent for profit-making applicants). Total funding is capped at $50,000 per year per applicant. Applications are open six times a year.
Heritage Project Grant
- For projects with the potential to make a significant and lasting impact, and address gaps in the local heritage scene.
- Grant quantum is expected to be $30,000, or 50 per cent of realistic project expenditure, whichever is less (30 per cent for profit-making applicants).

Total funding is capped at $150,000 per year per applicant. Applications are open twice a year.

Singapore's hawkers celebrated in book
By Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 22 Jul 2013

KNEADING and shaping dough is second nature to Madam Chua Chay Cheng. The 92-year-old hawker, after all, sold traditional Teochew snacks for more than 40 years.

After her husband, a cook, died in 1971, she became a hawker to support her eight children, who were between seven and 15 then.

Her story of resilience is celebrated by Mr Sinma DaShow, 39, in the last chapter of his book, Not For Sale: Singapore's Remaining Heritage Street Food Vendors, which focuses on 10 women hawkers. The book's launch is part of this year's Singapore HeritageFest.

Partially funded by the National Heritage Board, the book, which includes black-and-white photographs, took 21/2 years to produce. Co-authored by Singapore-based photographer Jim Orca, 39, it is being sold for $88 on website www.notforsale.sg

"There are tonnes of values that we can pick up from our older generation of hawkers, including perseverance and resourcefulness," said Mr DaShow, whose father was also a hawker.

Madam Chua has sold hundreds of thousands of delicacies such as ang ku kueh, soon kueh, rice kueh and yam kueh. She worked nine-hour shifts, seven days a week, and made little profit. Life, she said, was tough.

"But I had very young children to support, so it was necessary for me to work hard and put my heart into what I did to make ends meet," she said in Teochew.

She retired last year after a fall.

Three of her children who have been helping her at the family's Yan Seng Traditional Teochew Kueh stall in Tekka Centre will continue the business.

Mr DaShow said the duo embarked on the project because the "hawker scene is at its crossroads". He explained that many old-time hawkers are retiring and with few of their children willing to take over, there was an urgent need to document their stories.

The book starts on a sombre note, looking at hawkers without heirs. The subsequent two chapters feature interesting hawker characters, and narrate their encounters and romances. The fourth is a tribute to second-generation hawkers, while the final one features female "superhero" hawkers who have slogged in the trade for 40 years or more.

Mr DaShow, who is also the founder of local cooking school California Sushi Academy, said: "Each photo represents a lifetime of work, sacrifice and dedication to their trade. Their stories are part of Singapore's shared narrative, which many readers will be able to relate to."

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