Time will be kind to Singapore’s creative industry but it needs to nurture future talent and build community

Singapore’s future as a globally recognised creative hot spot looks promising, according to creative leaders from across the industry, but it needed to better celebrate its local talent, nurture it and create a more supportive community.

The mixed feelings were expressed by a panel for The Drum’s Singapore Creative Cities special supplement, bringing together Singapore-based artist Steve Lawler (Mojoko), MullenLowe Singapore CEO Shannon Cullum, Aaron Yang, senior brand manager at Pernod Ricard and Bryan Seah, head of original content, Southeast Asia, at Discovery Networks, as well as SI Partner's Sam Olsen, who discussed creativity and technology.

Olsen, said: “I think Singapore is in a very good place strategically to dominate the creative sector going forward in terms of bringing together creative minds, though the marketing and advertising agencies who have been brought here because of good local talent and ease of work. But you also have the technology side and that is doing very well in terms of its relationship with the rest of Asia and the world. Bringing the tech and the creative together is very important for the future because as creative becomes more technology-focused, you have ready-made talent to fuel and boost the creative team.”

On the whole the panel were very positive about Singapore’s creative force and were optimistic about what the industry could output in years to come, but words of warning came around whether it was good at supporting one another.

MullenLowe’s Cullum, said: "Time will be kind to Singapore, as it will attract more global work and more talent, and more and more of the creative industry’s energy will swing this way, simply because of its proximity to Asia. It’s about us in the creative industries preparing to be winners in it and supporting it and I think that’s a big aspect of Singapore- that support mechanic within the creative community isn’t as strong.”

Speaking on the panel, Cullum gave a shout out to BBH Singapore, who was one of the most awarded agencies at Cannes this year, saying that he wasn’t afraid to give recognition to other agencies when they’ve done a good job.

From a content point of view, Discovery Networks is investing heavily in local talent, particularly for students. Discovery’s Seah, said he agreed with Cullum’s sentiment that more support was needed to be proud of having a “made in Singapore” badge on creative endeavours.

“A lot has been said about the strength of the South Korean media industry and how creative it has become and a lot of that has come just over the last two to three years. A lot of that has been built on the fact that Koreans are really almost nationalistic in support of own media. We need Singaporean to start supporting Singaporean artists and content creators and be really proud of what we can do and produce out of where we are,” he explained.

In terms of funding this, Pernod Ricard’s Yang, said that brands have a responsibility to support artists financially, particularly in expensive cities like Singapore, where it’s hard to make a living in more creative roles.

“From a brand point of view, if no one’s going to back artists or say go nuts, it’s very hard because let’s face it, this country runs on money and it’s a very expensive place to live so without the support it is very hard for them to show what they can do,” he said.

Lawler, an artist himself who has worked in agencies and now bridges the art and commercial world with his business Kult, said that linking education in a “hot house” idea to business was becoming ever more important because it created job-ready people.

“The intern type idea is a bit of a dirty word now but what if that was taken to a next level of incubating, with 10 or 20 interns, becoming a creative section of a company and having that as an idea? Or brands could bring in art students to explore, in low risk and expense, and there may be sparks of excitement - it is very doable,” added Lawler.

The Singapore Creative Cities magazine and breakfast created in partnership with SI Partners and The Trade Desk. To see content from the magazine, visit the Creative Cities section of The Drum.

Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte