An artsy argument in favour of the East in the East-vs-West debate

If you did a quick poll right now, chances are at least one person in your group of friends lives in Tampines. The third largest new town in Singapore is just one of those places that seems so remote for being at one end of the map, yet strangely houses a sizeable chunk of the population (Woodlands, we’re looking at you too). It makes sense then that the Eastside neighbourhood is home to just as many stories—enough to make it the focus town for the next edition of Arts in Your Neighbourhood (AYN).

Returning over three weekends from Mar 7-24, this 12th edition of the National Arts Council programme pays homage to the former rubber plantation town. Over 50 activities have been planned to take place at 16 locations islandwide, spanning the genres of dance, literary arts, music, theatre and visual arts.


P7:1SMA

Within Tampines itself, look forward to immersive activities like Music on the Move (Mar 17 & 23), a roving truck of local musicians performing compositions by young and old residents of Tampines; and District 18 (Mar 16-17) by dance company P7:1SMA, which will tell the forgotten stories of pasar bulat (wet market) hawkers through contemporary dance, right in Tampines Round Market. And not to be missed is Tigers in Tampines (Mar 23-24), a pop-up music stage pulled together by local creative whizzes Syndicate, where artists will perform EDM tracks remixing spoken word and sounds from Tampines’ heartlands. The pop-up is named as a tribute to the fact that Tampines was once home to wild tigers.

Another highlight this edition is the site-specific public installations running throughout the three weeks. In (,) Sense: Tampines, five commissioned artworks have been placed around the neighbourhood, to encourage viewers to engage more meaningfully with their surroundings. In Tampines Central Park, Thai artist Tatwatchai Puntusawasdi creates hand-crafted, intentionally warped benches for your sitting pleasure; while Malaysia’s Andrew Pok fills the field with 300 life-sized emojis and quotes collected from Tampines residents. The installations continue over at Our Tampines Hub, with interactive works from Singapore artists Chen Sai Hua Kuan, Kray Chen and Joey Soh.

A separate installation, Off Cuts Tea House, creates a Japanese tea-house made entirely of recycled and repurposed materials (or off-cuts)—made to measure the same as a HDB bomb shelter. Step inside the tiny space, and enjoy a cup of tea as you contemplate nature amidst the urban city.


Ferry Benches by Tatwatchai Puntusawasdi

Beyond Tampines, you can also catch various performances that will pop up in other neighbourhoods. Heading to Bedok, Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh is Spot Pocket Opera Theatre, to tell the tale of a young time traveller journeying to witness the 1819 arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in Charlotte and the Time Machine. Keep an eye out too for the roving performances of French troupe The Acoustic Transformers with their instruments made of recycled materials, and flamenco dancers Flamenco Sin Fronteras. It's never been a greater time for Tampines pride.


Arts in Your Neighbourhood takes place Mar 7-24. Admission is free and more information is available here.