Can‐Seng Ooi Department of International Economics and Management , Copenhagen Business School , Porcelænshaven 24, Frederiksberg, DK-2000 F, Denmark  

Correspondence: ooi@cbs.dk

Pages 403-417 | Published online: 09 Nov 2010

Can the arts and culture prosper under a less than democratic political regime? This paper looks at the soft authoritarian Singaporean government and the making of Singapore into a ‘City for the Arts’. Many scholars advocate that a culturally vibrant and creative city must also celebrate diversity, tolerance and experimentation. This implies that a democratic space is needed for creative energies to flow. Singapore is not known for its democracy. But Singapore has become relatively successful in being the cultural hub in the region. A more liberal approach to diversity and criticism of the authorities can now be observed but there are still many strong‐handed social and political controls in the city‐state. This paper tries to answer these two questions: has Singapore become democratic because the authorities want the arts and culture to flourish? Is democracy necessary for the creation of a lively cultural city?

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