Ong Keng Sen
Academy Director / Artistic Director, Theatreworks

The Curators Academy is concerned with the curation of performance but intends to move beyond the skills of curation, unlike conventional training programmes in European universities.

Its emphasis is on developing a context when there is little or none, for ‘growing’ performance which engages and interrogates the politics of the local, the site. The first recognition of the Academy is that very often, curators need to cultivate a scene of processes between their public intellectuals, artists, audiences and civil society, to construct a scene and its own specifics.

The Academy is concerned with bringing aspiring curators together in South East Asia. We will work regionally with Goethe Institute to locate these aspiring curators. These will primarily be independent artists and producers with strong networks but the Academy will strive to develop them into curators. The academy can also develop programmers of institutions but it is focused on independent curation. Institutional programmers will have to propose and develop a curatorial project outside of their institutions unless they can convince their institutions to be part of their enabling network.

It is the Academy’s belief that the programmers buy, artists make and curators nurture porous contexts, conversations, continuities through interrogating archives, legacies and bridging potentialities.

The participants who will be engaging in dialogue with trainers who will include myself, European curators as well as curators from the Arab world, the Americas and Africa. The trainers will bring specific perspectives based on their research and practice.

The Curators Academy will also curate a series of artistic processes/works presented by the artists themselves, articulating their perspectives through gestures, words, sounds, images etc. This provides a practical intense frame for reflection by the participants during the 5 days.

As The Curators Academy is interdisciplinary with a focus on performance, it will happen alongside different festivals of various genres every two years. The Curators Academy will be mobile in space and time, harnessing its itinerant and transient happening, as an advantage. In 2018, we start with ArtStage Singapore (contemporary art) but in time, we will synergize with other genres, performing arts, films, literature etc. This is important, as The Curators Academy will also need to be embedded in a larger context, to learn, to critique and to depart from.

Every cycle of the Academy will be two years.
The second year in each cycle will be focused on sustainability. Three projects from the best proposals of the participants will be produced into three local festivals of processes in 2019. As a start, Arts Network Asia ( will fund these three local festivals with a small grant. It is the hope that in the second year, the sharing process continue, harnessing these three local festivals as multiple epi-centres of doing, learning and discussing in the second year.

The Curators Academy will focus on four different platforms:
– The inter-relationships amongst participants and trainers,
– A series of artist processes and works curated by The Academy to provide practical reflection for the participants
– The existing ecosystem which the Academy is embedded in during the first phase of the two-year cycle, eg Artstage Singapore in 2018 (contemporary art)
– Sustaining through local practice in the second phase of the two-year cycle, bringing the experience of the Academy into specific contexts to engender conversations between site, politics and art.