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It’s time to demand more for Singapore’s art and culture by The Peak Magazine

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Arts and Culture Michael Tay

Photo Credit: The Peak Magazine

The Essential Artist

The veteran diplomat and Sing Jazz founder believes the pandemic will negatively impact the arts, but he plans to reverse it.

Most teenagers would listen to the countercultural music trend of their time, which usually veers between rock and roll and rap. Michael Tay listened to jazz. “My brother gave me my first hi-fi set and he loved jazz, so I did too,” laughs the 62-year-old.

Tay’s musical knowledge expanded as his career grew. His lifelong career as a diplomat brought him into contact with the deep cultural traditions of Korea, Japan, and Russia. Living in these culturally rich countries, he learned that a child who grows up surrounded by music, literature, poetry and plays will develop a creative impulse that will last throughout their lives and contribute to society.

Tay launched the Sing Jazz festival and the non-profit Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise when he returned to Singapore. Despite the success of the two since their inception in 2013 and the fact that there is an increase of options now, Tay believes that the country is still grappling with “society’s instinctive deprioritising of the arts”.

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