‘Awaken the Dragon’: Participatory art-making and the grassroots in authoritarian Singapore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the networks involved in the landscape of the artistic grassroots, state arts policy nexus, the Singaporean 'heartland' and how these encounters are played out upon/within the urban environment through the lens of the 'Awaken the Dragon' festival. It briefly outlines Singapore's 'cultural turn' and the context of the artistic grassroots in the city-state. Singaporean paradox clearly demonstrates the careful reading necessary of artistic criticality and its agents and networks in Singapore: 'forum theatre' contains distinctly radical potential, and has its origins in Marxist movements in South America – yet the way it has been co-opted, used and deployed by the authoritarian state means that it now falls under the state umbrella as a tool for nation-building and social harmony. As a participatory grassroots activity that brought thousands of Singaporeans together, 'Awaken the Dragon' succeeded in a way that many top-down arts initiatives have failed to do.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Art Encounters
Subtitle of host publicationArt, Space and Identity
EditorsMartin Zebracki, Joni Palmer
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315602837
ISBN (Print)9781472468796
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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