Why is the Arts NMP always from theatre?

A bit slow on this, but a friend just sent me a link to Kok Heng Leun’s parliament speech. All very good points he’s made, but one thing just bugs me. Why is the Arts NMP always a theatre person?

From 2009-2011, the first Arst NMP was Audrey Wong, who organises theatre festivals. Then it was Janice Koh, who’s an actress. And now its Kok Heng Leun, who directs Chinese theatre. And don’t even get me started on minority race representation.

I mean, sure….theatre people are very vocal and very opinionated but surely the arts doesn’t begin and end on the stage? What about the painters, the sculpters, the musicians and dancers and writers?

It gets worse. I hear that even the shortlist is dominated by theatre names. Seriously? How open can this process be? I went to one of those meetings that they organised to choose names, which was held at…. surprise surprise, Theatreworks. And the usual suspects were there. All the theatre artistic directors, your usual bunch of vocal actors, and practically few others from the other artistic disciplines.

If I were another kind of artist, I’d be pretty pissed off at being crowded out by the loudest voices in the room. If I were a writer, or a musician, I’d be fuming at the lack of representation. And it shouldn’t be so. I mean, the musicians of Singapore are more politically united than any other artist group. They have their own union, for heaven’s sakes, which is protecting their legal and professional rights, while actors are still squabbling over how to start a union and who gets to run it. Seriously, I remember actors talking about forming a union in the late 90s. Almost 20 years later, and they are still just talking! Talk about a bunch of indian chiefs.

Maybe that’s what theatre people are good at. Talking. But when it comes to action….nothing.

Double standards. For all their talk of equal rights, fair representation, democracy for all, it only applies to theatre’s narrow set of needs.  There are a tonne of issues which are specific to each discipline, none of which are being highlighted due to their inability to share power with others.

Hypocrisy, thy name is theatre. And its something I tahan very long already.

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