I did not want to eavesdrop on the conversation, but the lady was very distressed.
Amidst the noise of the train, the book in front of me and her on the phone, I could not help but give her all ears. It seemed she was a model involved in the Singapore Fashion Festival and was heading home after auditions of some sorts and she was bitching to her friend about how the day had been tiring and the set-up of the audition horrendous. What really piqued my ears was when she lamented how some manager apparently restricted the number of Singaporean models to get on the runway, saying something like “That’s enough Singaporeans.” when the designer was picking his or her models.
And she added, “That’s what I hate about Singapore, I so want to leave.”
Her story may be grossly exaggerated, but I think it highlighted a problem in our society — we don’t give our local talents enough love. It is not about blindly supporting whatever is local but showing the support and the critique they need to improve and continue producing local works.
This lack of love has consequences on the creators that only result in massive disconnect between the audience and creator. While some of these talents, continue to improve with or without it, those who turn negative to this lack of support either completely give up on Singapore or their talent or turn inwards in their outlook.
The latter is something that I think is less explored, but what you essentially see are artists who create works that do not resonate with society (here, I mean beyond the arts community for instance) because he or she has been abandoned by it. In turn, when it goes on display, the average Singaporean cannot appreciate the art and does not even give it enough love to criticise it. This institutionalises into a vicious cycle and what you get are two distinct communities, those who support local and those who don’t, who are in their own conversations that never meet.