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Michael Tay, arts entrepreneur by The Business Times

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Photo Credit: The Business Times, www.businesstimes.com.sg

He was a kampung boy who grew up to become a wine-drinking, music-loving plenipotentiary and polymath, but you wouldn’t know it on first meeting him.

Mr Tay, 59, describes himself as a big-picture, long-term kind of guy, and there’s sufficient evidence to back that up. As a foreign ministry official and diplomat – he’s a former Ambassador to Russia – Tay is well-versed in the art of state-craft, but he’s also a champion of the arts scene, on a mission to provide a global platform for local artists and musicians and change lives in the process.

While serving as ambassador, he commissioned Russian composer Vladimir Martynov to create a full-blown symphony for Singapore. It debuted in Moscow in October 2005 and was performed in Singapore in 2007. While in Moscow, he also created the Singapore-Russia Business Forum, an annual meeting to promote bilateral ties, persuade Russian oligarchs to visit Singapore and provide business opportunities for all parties involved.  

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