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Free The Substation Garden! Free The Garden for the Arts!

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Since the opening of The Substation, the Garden has been one of the most important spaces which brought artists together as a common space which celebrated all forms of expression. Many believe it was the 'peak period' of realizing and recognizing multiculturalism which the late Kuo Pao Kun had proposed to many artists to consider - to open up, communicate, explore and experiment.

The Garden was 'designed' for such a purpose. It was a flexible space for all forms of art and also to pay attention to the importance of 'thinking about nature'. The trees in the garden were mostly left as they were (only a few were cut away so the Garden could house people and activity). This was a symbolic gesture of enduring and working with or coexisting with nature in such an environment where it was not about the bar/pub/cafe but about catering to all forms of expression and people of different races and practices, from traditional to contemporary. Openness was the essence of it. Only through such 'criteria', individuals or groups could find their way to understand their otherness and differences.

Since 1989, the Garden has seen thousands of people find the beginnings in their creative lives where their voices were heard, challenged and appreciated. The majority of the artists of that generation saw themselves in the Garden regardless of their form of expression.

Since Timbre took it over the Garden in 2005, the Garden has gradually turned into just another ordinary bar/pub/cafe which caters mainly to business-oriented 'events' and cover music. Besides that, local artists have had a hard time using the Garden again as the space is in many way controlled by Timbre.

The Garden used to be open to public from 10am till late at night, and during this period, many would visit and use the Garden as a kind of sanctuary for artists in the city where they could meet other artists and practitioners. The Garden was a natural environment where creative people met and discussed ideas and possibilities of collaboration.

It has been so many years since Timbre took over the Garden. The arts community miss the Garden that was and hope that the tenant could be changed to one whose criteria and main interest are closely related to the principle of what it was before.

Hence, we hope that The Substation's Board of Directors and Team should take this time to reconsider their vision for the Garden. We believe that The Substation should take back and maintain complete control over the direction of and activities in the Garden. The business entity (bar/pub/cafe) should complement and serve The Substation's artistic vision for the Garden.

Lastly, with the NAC's increased emphasis on the development of 'arts and community', we hope that the NAC would give The Substation more financial support so that it would be less dependent on the rental of the Garden. The Substation should do what it does best - build the arts community and be a real Home for the Arts.

Free The Substation Garden! Free The Garden for the Arts!


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