Singapore Launches Stewards of Intangible Cultural Heritage Award

An outdoor performance of Wayang Kulit along the Singapore River © National Heritage Board, Singapore

Singapore launched its first Stewards of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Award on 30 October 2019. The award aims to recognise ICH practitioners and groups who have made significant contributions in their respective fields, and are dedicated to the promotion and transmission of their ICH elements. Through the award, the National Heritage Board of Singapore (NHB) also hopes to raise public awareness and appreciation of ICH, and to encourage ICH practitioners and groups to transmit these knowledge and skills to the next generation of practitioners.

All award recipients will receive a plaque, a certificate of award, and a cash award of $5,000. In addition, award recipients will also be able to tap on a project grant of up to $20,000 over five years to be used for showcases, talks, workshops, seminars as well as apprenticeship programmes. NHB will also work with award recipients to document their knowledge and skills as part of the board’s efforts to safeguard Singapore’s ICH elements.

As part of the award, NHB will identify and provide nation-level platforms for award recipients to showcase and share their ICH knowledge and skills with the wider community. These platforms include the annual Singapore Heritage Festival organised by NHB, as well as the annual culture festivals organised by NHB’s heritage institutions that celebrate the heritage and culture of the Chinese, Malay and Indian communities in Singapore.

The Stewards of ICH Award was conceived based on feedback from Singapore’s ICH practitioners, academics and members of local NGOs during focus group discussions on ICH conducted by NHB in 2017. It is also one of the key recommendations listed under “Our SG Heritage Plan”, Singapore’s first five year masterplan for heritage and museums launched in April 2018. For more information about the plan, please visit here.

Following the announcement of its launch on 30 October 2019, there will be a three-month open call for nominations from October 2019 to 31 January 2020. The ICH element that the practitioner and/or group is being nominated for must fall in one of the six categories of ICH recognised by Singapore and listed on Singapore’s ICH inventory. These categories are as follows:

  • Performing Arts;
  • Traditional Craftsmanship;
  • Oral Traditions, Expression and Language;
  • Social Practices, Rituals and Festive Events;
  • Knowledge and Practices concerning Nature and Universe; and
  • Food Heritage
    All nominations will then be assessed by an Evaluation Panel comprising ICH specialists, ICH practitioners and community representatives. The assessment criteria for the Stewards of ICH Award comprises transmission of skills and knowledge; mastery of skills and knowledge; dedication to the practice; and positive impact and influence. The successful award recipients for Singapore’s inaugural Stewards of ICH Award will be announced at the Singapore Heritage Festival in 2020.

    To find out more about Singapore’s Stewards of ICH Award, please visit website.