How to Find the Magic in Secret Singapore

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’

Marcel Proust

Since 2012’s huge boost in arts funding, Singapore has redefined itself as an international arts hub. It now boasts a variety of creative experiences, thanks to its prolific production of local art by established, emerging and unknown artists. Yet, if you don’t know where to look it’s easy to believe the independent arts scene doesn’t exist beyond the mainstream. So how do we find Singapore’s secrets and discover its magic?

How to find Secret Singapore

I’ve witnessed a delightful sea change in the breadth and diversity of what is on offer here which inspired me to set up my own arts community in 2014. From performance poetry, art walks and interactive dining to creative networking and incredible live music, there is so much to experience but still few, beyond the intrepid and inquisitive, know about the range of underground art on offer. Art advisor, Jane Shishido explains how it’s hard to distinguish the dynamic and engaging from the generic; ‘it’s tough to find selected art events because we’re saturated with too many events from the retail and F&B sectors.’ A further challenge is that more memorable events are often poorly advertised. Lynx Ng, a local arts enthusiast, identifies a ‘lack of centralised location for information on all events makes it difficult.’

There is no easy answer to online search. There are pages to like, groups to join, weekend guides to subscribe to, apps to download, ticketing platforms to register with, gallery listings to trawl and library programs to scour. This takes time and dedication. Members of my arts community are often surprised by the new experiences they are introduced to because they had no idea they existed and don’t have time to do the research required to find them. 

British artist, Vix, of Vix Harris Designs a resident of Singapore since 2014, adds ‘it very much depends on the friendships you forge when you arrive and the people you meet’. I couldn’t agree more because different people use a variety of sources to find events and it is often via them that I learn about what’s going on. 

My journey into the arts scene has led me into many open communities of artists and a few closed ones too! If you delve into the scene regularly enough you will meet friendly locals from the industry who will invite you to events and pass on recommendations. This is one of the only ways to move beyond the commercial art fairs and develop a taste for what is worth seeing.

How to find the magic?

In deciding what to go to, money versus value comes into play. Many people gravitate towards popular venues or well-known ticket providers but these are unlikely to give you access to emerging art or a range of the most rewarding experiences. It can add an element of hit and miss but if you really want to explore the arts, you have to be willing to learn how to navigate it and experiment. The truth is, most magical secrets here are free. A plethora of exhibitions, talks, performances and art groups charge little or more often nothing. Creative Mornings is the perfect example – a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative people. They provide a talk from an industry leader with Q&A and an excellent networking platform over breakfast and it is absolutely free!

It’s a wonderful time to be an arts enthusiast or practitioner in Singapore but finding the magic in the face of so much choice means cultivating relationships, being proactive and bolder in your search. However for those who don’t have time, relying on passionate arts enthusiasts like myself means you can have curated access to the best experiences in town that you probably didn’t know existed. Why not come and take a fresh look at Singapore’s arts scene, you won’t be disappointed!




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