Why Stamford Arts Centre has incorporated augmented and virtual reality into its art exhibits

Tradition and technology may seem like strange bedfellows, but that is precisely what the revamped Stamford Arts Centre in Waterloo Street has to offer.

The centre, which focuses on the traditional arts, has introduced two new digital features since its year-long, $7 million redevelopment was completed last year.

The first is an augmented reality (AR) walking trail that visitors can go on to learn more about the centre and its artists.

Then there is a Chinese opera stage tour, which uses virtual reality (VR) to give a 360-degree view of a traditional Chinese street opera stage, as well as a look at the costumes, make-up, props and instruments.

“In today’s digital age, we should leverage advances in technology to reach new audiences and transform the audience experience,” said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday at the start of celebrations marking the centre’s reopening.

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Stamford Arts Centre reopened to arts groups last year, with a new multi-purpose hall (black box theatre), an acoustically treated music studio, as well as an artist residency studio and other shared facilities. Lifts and walkways have also improved accessibility.

The centre is home to five arts groups as diverse as Chinese chamber music ensemble Ding Yi Music Company; Shantha Ratii Initiatives, which explores Indian dance; and dance troupe P7:1SMA, known for its contemporary take on Malay dance.

Yesterday’s celebrations kicked off three days of festivities that will last through the weekend. These range from a Malay and Indian dance theatre show to a live Chinese cross-talk performance.

Visitors can also try out the AR and VR features.

Ms Fu reiterated the Government’s commitment to supporting the traditional arts scene, citing broad strategies in Our SG Arts Plan – ranging from bolstering capabilities and content development to helping with outreach.

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The National Arts Council, for instance, supports the Malay Music Enrichment Course, the National Indian Music Competition and the National Chinese Music Competition.

It also introduced the Traditional Arts Repository digital archiving project in collaboration with the National Library Board, supporting the documentation and digitisation of traditional arts groups’ materials, such as scores and scripts.

Ms Fu added that Stamford Arts Centre can play a key role in encouraging traditional arts groups to collaborate. It will offer residencies in traditional arts and its location in the Waterloo Street arts belt means it is in close proximity to many arts centres, institutions and arts schools, she said.

Ms Shantha Ratii, artistic director of Shantha Ratii Initiatives, believes that the new AR and VR features at the centre will attract people from all walks of life. “This is definitely going to attract a younger audience. We are all excited. This is the future,” she said.

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This article was originally published in The Straits Times.

Photo: ST/SPH

This article is originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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