The Arts House at the Old Parliament House Expected to Enliven Civic District with Cultural and Lifestyle choices.
Singapore, 17 October 2003 – The hoardings have come down on Singapore’s oldest surviving government building, the Old Parliament House. Renamed The Arts House at the Old Parliament. Singapore’s newest arts and entertainment venue is expected to rejuvenate the Civic District to become a vibrant cultural and lifestyle hub with a range of arts and entertainment programmes, and lifestyle options.
Targeted to open in the second quarter of 2004, The Arts House at the Old Parliament also aims to expand the tastes of audiences through a spectrum of progressive yet accessible performances and works, establish a platform to develop and promote young talent as well as create a link between the rich history of the space and contemporary living.
“We believe that developing, presenting and promoting the arts in its many forms, as well as young artistics talents, locally and regionally add vibrancy to the precinct,’ Mr Edmund Cheng, Chairman of The Old Parliament House Limited which is managing The Arts House. “The art forms are exciting and fun. They also engage people’s creativity and encourage questioning and the imagination of possible futures, two of which can motivate entrepreneurship.”
The name. The Arts House at the Old Parliament provides a direct link to the historic past of the building. This building was originally designed and built as a house in 1827 by Irish architect GD Coleman for a merchant, John Maxwell. Historically, this building was known as The Court House, The Old Court House, The Old Supreme Court House up to 1939. After World War Two, it was referred to as The Assembly House after Sir John Nicoll, then Governor of Singapore decided that it would be the home of the new Legistive Assembly in 1953, the Assembly House was renamed the Parliament House.
“We also wanted a name which connotes the intimacy, accessibility and human-scale of our spaces. A venue with a house in its name sends a message that it is welcoming, and a comfortable place of hospitality,” says Colin Goh, General Manager of The Old Parliament House Limited.
“At the same time, we find that the name changing signals the opening of a new chapter in its history, about its new place in the lives of Singaporeans. Where once only a select few would be privileged to enter into this space, the Arts House will be a place where people connect with each other through the arts.”
The work of converting the historic seat of government, judiciary and legislature into a modern space for the arts across disciplines will finally be completed by the end of the year. This will be followed by a period of testing the adaptive reuse before it opens its door to the public next year.
The conversion will retain the building’s original English neo-Palladian and modern French classical architecture while providing facilities for contemporary art performances and social events. Although not purpose-built as an arts venue, the building’s unique features include the former Parliamentary Chamber which may be used as a performance area, a black box, a film theatrette and a visual arts gallery. Ancillary spaces include rooms for workshops and seminars, three dining outlets and one retail outlet. An exhibit on Singapore’s constitutional history can be found on the upper gallery. The riverside will also be a setting for outdoor performances and street activities.
The Old Parliament House Limited, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, will manage the arts venue.
About The Arts House at the Old Parliament
The Arts House at the Old Parliament is Singapore’s newest arts centre. It aims to expand the tastes of audiences through a spectrum of multi-disciplinary arts experiences, and to establish a platform to develop and promote young talent.
For further queries, please contact
Director, Corporate Communications & Marketing
The Old Parliament House Limited
Tel: 65 6332 6901
Fax: 6 336 3021
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications & Marketing
The Old Parliament House Limited
Tel: 65 6332 6903