The Substation will remain open


On 2 March 2021, The Substation Board had announced its decision to
close The Substation permanently. This difficult decision had been
made for a number of reasons, key amongst them The Substation’s
financial sustainability as an independent arts centre, arising from its
obligation to leave its premises, and exacerbated by Covid-19, the decision
of the National Arts Council (NAC) to turn 45 Armenian Street into a centre
for multiple arts groups following its renovations, and the inability of The
Substation to continue to serve as an independent arts centre at 45
Armenian Street after renovations.
On 6 March, The Substation organised a Town Hall meeting with the arts
community to share its decision, during which many divergent views were expressed. There
were discussions during the Town Hall and over social media on initiatives
and ideas to keep The Substation open as an organisation, including a
membership model and a renewal of the Board.
On 18 March, the Board announced, that we were open to
receiving proposals from the arts community for the continuation of The
Substation. We had done so because we had heard the views of the
community, and noted that a proportion of the arts community believed that
The Substation should not be closed permanently even if it could not return
to fully occupy 45 Armenian Street or to continue in its present form as an
independent arts centre for multi-disciplinary experimental arts.
While the decision to close is one The Substation Board collectively made
and believed was the right thing to do, we also acknowledged that many in
the community felt otherwise and sought an opportunity to drive The
Substation forward. We were heartened by this spirit of communal
responsibility and initiative.
For transparency’s sake, a set of terms of reference was published on The
Substation website providing guidance on what the proposal should cover. The deadline was set and later extended to 27 April at the request of members of the arts
For a plurality of views and expertise, the Board approached established
members of the arts community with diverse backgrounds and
organisational experience to help us evaluate the strength of the proposals.
The Board wishes to express its sincere thanks and deep appreciation to Ute
Meta Bauer, Founding Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore,

Nanyang Technological University; Tamares Goh, Head (Curatorial
Programmes), National Gallery Singapore; Shaza Ishak, Managing Director,
Teater Ekamatra; and Thirunalan Sasitharan, Co-founder and Director,
Intercultural Theatre Institute for agreeing to be our advisors.
When the 27 April deadline for proposal submission arrived, we had
received two proposals, one from Shaiful Risan, and the other from a group
including Alvin Tan, Audrey Wong, Kok Heng Leun and Noorlinah Mohamed.
The Board and our advisors met with the proposers on 8 May to discuss
their proposals in detail. The proposers drew inspiration from their
backgrounds in the punk movement and theatre, respectively. Their
proposals reflected their passion for The Substation’s history and its role in
shaping the arts scene, underscored the critical importance of having an
independent and multi-disciplinary arts centre in Singapore, and recognised
that the areas of long-term growth, budgeting and fundraising remain key
challenges that need to be addressed. We thank the proposers for
participating in the submission process, for their effort and time spent in
putting together their proposals, and meeting with the Board and advisors
to discuss them.
Building on this process, two members of The Substation Board, Wahyuni
Hadi and Jean-Louis Morisot, worked together to conceptualise a new
Substation (Substation2.0) which sought to reconcile The Substation’s
historical artistic mission with the long term challenge of financial
sustainability. The key common principle that underpins Substation 2.0 and
the two proposals is the commitment for The Substation to remain an
independent arts company. A number of the individuals behind both
proposals will be invited to participate in various capacities in Substation
2.0, and we are happy that they have expressed support towards The
Substation and its continued future.

Our Decision

Today, we are very happy to announce our decision to keep The Substation
We recognize the road ahead to be challenging. Substation 2.0 will have to
streamline and restructure significantly in order to function effectively as an
arts company, and create a future post 45 Armenian Street.
The months ahead will be a period of transition and challenge where The
Substation will apply for funding support from the National Arts Council, in
addition to using this time to recalibrate and plan. The new team will also
begin the process of seeking private sector and community support in its
new form.
Substation 2.0 will continue to have as its core mission the discovering,
nurturing and supporting of new and diverse voices in the arts. The
fundamental shift for The Substation is evolving from an arts centre to an
arts company focused on developing original programming. The strategic
vision of The Substation 2.0 is to create a path for emerging independent
artists of all disciplines through incubation and mentorship; to be the home
for the arts through meaningful engagement of the artistic community; and
to create a regional presence in Southeast Asia through engaged
partnerships and collaborations.
By the end of August, The Substation will be led by a new Board, comprising
a group of arts professionals and practitioners from multiple disciplines and
age groups to offer diversity in experiences and background. Their Bios can
be found in the Annex. The Board is pleased to announce that Ms. Raka
Maitra will be the Artistic Director with Ms. Serene Yap as General Manager.

The Substation remains committed to maintaining the high standards of
corporate governance that have been the Substation’s hallmark, and will
implement structured term limits to embed board renewal as a fundamental
“I am seriously glad that a way forward for the meaningful continuation of
The Substation has been found. The Board had taken the difficult decision
to close because we felt it was the right thing to do to protect The
Substation’s proud heritage. At the same time, we also felt the strength of
desire of large parts of the arts community not to see it close. Substation 2.0
represents a necessary radical evolution of The Substation in order to be
sustainable in the longer term. I am certain that the small committed team
that has come together to lead Substation 2.0 forward will give it their all,
and all of us on the current Substation Board have told them they can count
on us to support them in any way we can.” – Chew Kheng Chuan, Chairman
“The Substation will return to its roots and defining mission, realigning
them to our new circumstances. The Substation’s purpose over the next few
years will be to re-establish and redefine The Substation as the home for
independent artists in Singapore, independent of our original building, while
expanding our collaborative partnerships locally and in the region. The
Substation still has an important role to play in the Singapore arts scene, and
we are grateful for this new beginning and the support the community has
shown. ” – Wahyuni Hadi
“I am honoured to be given the opportunity to lead The Substation as its
Artistic Director during this period of critical transformation for The
Substation. The Substation has always championed independent artists and
in doing so, has created a space for new kinds of art works in Singapore. We remain committed to being an incubator of new talents and presenting
works that inspire and create dialogue.” – Raka Maitra, Artistic Director


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here