Responding to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Dennis Tan’s questions on the National Arts Council’s (NAC) withdrawal of funding for the book, “State of Emergency” by Jeremy Tiang, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu told parliament today that the book “did not meet the funding requirements mutually agreed upon as the content in the book deviated from the original proposal.”
The book, “State of Emergency”, follows the fortunes of a Singaporean family caught up in political intrigue over the years including pivotal and controversial political events such as the Hock Lee riots in 1955, the Communist Malayan Emergency between 1948 and 1960, and Operation Spectrum in 1987.
Jeremy Tiang, who is known for his translation work, first submitted the proposed content to the NAC, who approved the funding grant of $12,000. He sent out the first draft of the book, but was told that funding would be withdrawn. By that time, he had already received $8,600 of the total amount.
His manuscript later won him a further $5,000 when it was shortlisted for Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016.
When asked whether the author had failed to meet any terms and conditions set out by NAC, Ms Fu replied that all authors sign an agreement with NAC upon receipt of the Creation grant.
“Based on these agreed terms, NAC then disburses this grant in stages. In certain cases, NAC may only be able to partially support projects. For instance, when the artist is unable to meet project milestones that include mutually agreed deliverables and timelines; or when the artist is unable to secure copyright and other clearances; or when the work is assessed not to meet NAC’s funding requirements.”
She added: “Members may want to note that the book has been published in Singapore, and is in circulation in bookstores. Beyond grants for specific projects, NAC’s support to artists includes facilitating arts housing, professional development, market and audience development, and arts philanthropy. NAC may support an artist or arts group in other areas, even if it is unable to support a specific project.”
Speaking with reporters today, Tiang said he was “disappointed” that Ms Fu talked mainly about procedures, but omitted mention about whether political concerns should be used to determine funding for the arts.