Singapore - International Document

The Art of Culture in Community Development

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Cheong A, Liew M, Oliveiro K, Su-Lin N

Year of Publication:

Artswok Collaborative

Publication Type:


This report is about the art of culture in community development in Singapore.

Community development has gotten increased attention in Singapore over the past couple of years. This is now, and will continue to be heightened by the impact felt here and globally from the present Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the resultant fractures in society affecting relationships on both the individual and communal level. There is a myriad of methodologies, approaches and practices to community development, but they largely reside within the domains of the community and social sectors, and in recent years, the health sector in Singapore.

This paper makes a case for cultural approaches to community development, and the accompanying tools, processes and forms in the arts, in recognition of the fundamental role culture plays in how communities form and are sustained. A cultural approach, or arts-based community development, intersects with community development approaches from other disciplines but also engenders unique outcomes because of its focus on values, beliefs and behaviours. Together with community-engaged arts processes, it contributes to community building and integration, as well as high levels of engagement.

To more deeply understand arts-based community development practices in geographically-based communities, this paper has selected 3 case examples: The Community Theatre by Beyond Social Services, Curating Whampoa and Let’s Go Play Outside! These cases were selected because of their arts or creative practices which are central and intertwined with community engagement; the depth and nuances of their engagement with the community with community development goals in mind; and their long-term commitment to the community.

Insights from studying the interviews conducted with artists and key organisational members from each of the cases have been organised in 4 main statements as to how a cultural approach, and art-based processes contribute towards community development: Unique value of the artist, embeddedness, spaces and sustainability. The paper ends by presenting opportunities that can be harnessed for arts-based community development here that will contribute towards our sustainability as a cohesive and resilient society.

Evidence Type: Case Study

Main Focus: Community Development

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Liew, M., Su-Lin, N., Cheong, A. and Oliveiro, K. (2020). The Art of Culture in Community Development. Singapore:Artswok Collaborative.