The artrepreneurial ecosystem in Singapore

Enabling and inhibiting the creative economy

Authored by: Can-Seng Ooi , Roberta Comunian

Routledge Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in Asia

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138959927
eBook ISBN: 9781315660509
Adobe ISBN:


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One of the reasons why many artists remain poor is their ‘denial of the economy’ (Abbing 2002: 34). Abbing argues that the strong ‘art-for-art-sake’ value makes it difficult for them to address the commercial aspects of their works and their profession. Simply speaking, talking about money makes many artists uncomfortable (Ooi 2010a). On the other hand, artists around the world, including those in Singapore, are encouraged to be more entrepreneurial. Instead of taking a Kantian view of unadulterated art, artists should take on a more economic-oriented approach, as they address different aspects of their craft and profession. ‘Artrepreneurs’ see their art practice as business. Besides art making, they must also pay attention to promotion, marketing, pricing strategy, hiring a manager, engaging with art consultants and reviewers, canvassing art collectors, and devising internationalization strategies in making their art into a business enterprise (Becker 1984; Grenfell and Hardy 2007). They may also find ways to transfer their artistic skills into other industries. As an artistic entrepreneur or ‘artrepreneur’, the artist is more commercially pragmatic and business-like (Engelmann et al. 2012; Harvie 2015). Artistic integrity need not be sacrificed and business is often framed as part of art practice. As a result, artrepreneurs do not feel guilty having to engage in business, and are usually not dependent on public support.

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