SINGAPORE: The Old Parliament House Limited (TOPH) turned 10 on December 11.
Incorporated by the National Arts Council in 2002 to open the former parliament building as an arts venue, the company now oversees six art centres in Singapore.
It has plans to expand this portfolio to 10 arts spaces over the next two years.
Turning a 200—year—old building into an arts venue did not come without challenges.
Besides having to open The Arts House during the SARS period in Singapore, the team at TOPH also had to be sensitive to how old rooms were converted, as they each carried historical significance.
The theatre for concerts and performances was formerly the office of then—Chief Minister David Marshall.
Since then, it has been used for a multitude of events, including book launches, dialogue sessions and even fashion shows.
Over the years, the team has gone on to manage other art centres, including Sculpture Square — an art space dedicated to contemporary 3—dimensional art and Goodman Arts Centre, which facilitates rental of spaces for the arts community, including a Black Box theatre, multi—purpose hall, gallery, rehearsal studios, music and art studios, and seminar rooms.
TOPH also manages The Little Arts Academy and ARTrium@MCI.
In 2013, it will open a new arts centre in Arab Street called Aliwal Arts Centre.
"What I think we have learned in the last ten years is how to make spaces alive, how could spaces itself be used for the community to ignite or to generate creativity," said Colin Goh, CEO of TOPH.
"When the company was first formed in 2002 and it was named The Old Parliament House Limited, it had a little limitations but at that time, what was good was that we had a dream, which says that whether these expertise, whether we could actually influence a community by having more art spaces that we could manage."
TOPH has also lent its advice on converting spaces for art overseas.
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