Apr 26, 2011
Royal College of Music to offer degrees here
THE Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) was started in 1938 by a group of Chinese arts education enthusiasts and was the first art school in Singapore.
In its early days, the Society of Chinese Artists helped to bring in famous Chinese artists to teach at the school.
Founding leaders and teachers include prominent Chinese artists like Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Chong Swee and Chen Wen Hsi.
The school was modelled after the Xiamen art school, offering courses in sculpture, applied arts and Western arts.
Over the years, it has carved out a unique niche for itself by blending Western modernist concepts and eastern traditional techniques.
Among its notable alumni are 11 Cultural Medallion recipients, including oil painter Tan Choh Tee and print-maker Chng Seok Tin, and 10 Young Artist Award winners.
It has also received generous donations from many philanthropic individuals and groups, including Ngee Ann Kongsi and the Lee Foundation, to ensure that deserving students can afford an education at the school.
PM Lee congratulating the Nafa orchestra conducted by lecturer Volker Hartung after they performed two pieces at the signing ceremony yesterday. Looking on is Dr Ng (left). --ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN
CITIZENS who are talented in music will be able to work towards a degree in music from the prestigious Royal College of Music, London (RCM) from this year without leaving Singapore.
The Government will throw in a subsidy for the fee for its two-year Bachelor of Music course too, bringing tuition down from $56,000 to $18,500. Permanent residents get a smaller subsidy. They pay $23,400.
Savings on tuition aside, doing the programme here will also mean huge savings on London's high living costs.
To get into the RCM from August, applicants will need to first have a music diploma from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) or its equivalent.
Nafa is the first institution in the world outside the United Kingdom to offer the music degree course from this leading music conservatory.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was at the official signing ceremony between Nafa and RCM yesterday, said the Government wants to give Singaporeans all the opportunities to excel, each according to his different ability.
He said: 'We have invested in arts education, as well as in science and technology and sports. Our aim is to create a mountain range with many peaks of excellence; within the arts itself, we are building a mini mountain range.'
His analogy was a reference to the Education Ministry's push in recent years to beat out multiple pathways for the different interests and talents of students.
As a result of this, primary and secondary schools now offer more talent development opportunities in sports, the arts and music; further upstream, the Government has set up arts institutions in recent years, such as the National University of Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory and the School of the Arts (Sota).
Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, who was also at the signing of the Nafa-RCM tie-up, said the programme, besides creating a new pathway for Singaporeans with talent in music, will build up the pool of qualified music teachers who will do their bit to deliver a holistic education.
Nafa president Choo Thiam Siew said it is an honour for Nafa to become the world's first institution outside the UK to run the RCM programme. He announced that Nafa will expand its Bencoolen Street campus to meet the rising demand for education in the arts.
PM Lee pledged that the Government will continue strengthening the arts institutions here by continuing to fund them; there will also be more undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships in the arts.
In his speech yesterday, PM Lee pointed out that public funding alone was not enough for the arts to thrive; Nafa had the support of the Chinese community in nurturing the arts.
Its founding teachers included prominent artists like Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Chong Swee and Chen Wen Hsi; the Society of Chinese Artists brought in well- known Chinese artists to teach there, and the work of the school was further buoyed by donations from philanthropic individuals and groups such as Ngee Ann Kongsi and the Lee Foundation.
Improving arts education will nurture talents for creative and arts-related jobs in the new economy, he said, and also 'deepen the soul of our society'.
Nafa music student Eugene Toh, 28, who hopes to get into the RCM degree course, said the generous tuition subsidy will put a world-class music education within the means of students like him.
Saying he was heartened by the Government's support for young people with talents in different fields, he said: 'The full fee of $56,000 is quite a big sum for the average Singaporean family.'