The Arts House (Old Parliament)

Description
Others - Singapore

About

Occupying the almost 200-year-old building that was home to Singapore’s first parliament, The Arts House continues in the distinguished tradition of this gazetted national monument and now plays a key role in the country's arts and creative scene. The Arts House at the Old Parliament, as it is affectionately referred to, promotes and presents multidisciplinary programmes and festivals within its elegant spaces. It focuses in particular on the literary arts, celebrating the works of written and spoken word artists from Singapore and beyond.

 

The Arts House is run and managed by Arts House Limited (AHL). AHL also presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, and manages Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre.   

Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL manages two key landmarks located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District -- The Arts House, a multidisciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming, and the Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, a heritage building that is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It also runs the Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses, and performing arts space Drama Centre. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performance and interdisciplinary arts in Singapore commissioned by the National Arts Council.

AHL was set up in 11 Dec 2002 as a public company under the National Arts Council and was formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House Limited on 19 Mar 2014.

CHAMBER

Capacity: 200


The Chamber is the most historically significant space in The Arts House and is the heart of the House. Formerly the Parliamentary Chamber where Members of the Singapore Parliament gathered, it is now popularly used for recitals, performances, conferences, fashion shows and even weddings. 

The Chamber’s customised furniture was shipped in from London and its upholstery is the original that was in place since 1954. In the past, simultaneous interpretations in English, Mandarin, Malay or Tamil were provided via a device attached by the side of the seats to facilitate the understanding of the Parliament by all Members. This allows them to listen to the proceedings in any one of the above languages. The castle-like design of the speakers, found behind the seats, was an icon in the coat of arms which was used when Singapore was a Crown colony from 1948 to 1959.

BLUE ROOM

Capacity: 120 (Standing Cocktail) / 60 (Round Table) / 80 (Theatre Style)


Originally blue, the Blue Room keeps its moniker as a reminder of its rich history. It is now a versatile space used both for performances and corporate functions, including press conferences, product launches and receptions. 

It was formerly the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Room, where Members of Parliament would relax in between debate sessions. In the 1950s, the adjoining Old Select Committee Room, now called the VIP Room, was the venue of secret meetings between then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the underground Communist chief, Fong Chong Pik aka 'The Plen' (for plenipotentiary). This was also where Mr Lee discussed strategies with his Old Guard ministers to take on the opposition Barisan Socialis in debate.

LIVING ROOM

Capacity: 80 (Standing Cocktail) / 50 (Round Table) / 70 (Theatre Style) 


The Living Room was where the nerve centre of the Parliament House used to be. From 1955 to 1959, this room was the general office of the Old Parliament House, in which administrators coordinated papers and reports for Parliamentary sessions. Later in 1959, after the formation of the government, the room was used for meetings of the People’s Action Party. This intimate and regal space is now suitable for seminars, receptions, book launches, workshops as well as rehearsal spaces.

GALLERY I

The exposed brick entrance into Gallery I is possibly the oldest feature of the Old Parliament House. These walls were treated with stucco or Madras Chunam plaster made from shell lime, egg white, coarse sugar and water soaked with coconut husks for 24 hours. The surfaces still endure to this day, and are so hard that nails cannot be knocked through.

This unique space is best used for exhibitions and cocktails.

GALLERY II

Capacity: 130 (Standing Cocktail) / 80 (Round Table) / 120 (Theatre Style)


The Gallery, in true Tuscan architecture, features high ceilings held up by tall columns and enriched by simple trimmings in its cornices.  This open visual arts space is the perfect venue for exhibitions, talks, corporate receptions and product launches.

The Gallery used to be part of the Legislative Assembly Library and later, from 1980, it became the Committee Room where meetings of the select committee were held. Important Bills like the Copyright Bill, the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Bill, the Parents Bill and many others were once deliberated here.

PLAY DEN

Capacity: 120


The Play Den is an intimate space that has been converted into a Black Box theatre, fully equipped with lighting, sound systems and retractable seats that enhance the versatility of the space. This flexibility makes it an ideal space for theatre, seminars and corporate events. This room was where the first court cases in Singapore were heard. Later in the 1950s, it served as the general office for Singapore’s first Chief Minister, Mr. David Marshall. It became a library in subsequent years.

SCREENING ROOM

Capacity: 75


Experience the magic of the silver screen in this 75-seater film theatrette, which used to house several offices during the Legislative Assembly and Parliamentary years in the late 20thcentury. Away from the humdrum of the office, this versatile and intimate space is a perfect setting for corporate functions such as media briefings and presentations, or a great way to treat your friends to a private film screening!

COUNCIL ROOM

For nearly 40 years from 1959 to 1999, this room was the office of the then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew when he attended Parliament, and subsequently used by Mr Goh Chok Tong. Prior to its use as the Prime Minister’s room, it was utilised by the clerk of the Legislative Parliament, who advised the Speaker and members of the House on practices and procedures.

With a floor area of 41m2, this is one of the smallest and simplest rooms in The Arts House. It is now popularly used for Board meetings.

FILM GALLERY

The Film Gallery, located beyond the Box Office, is a long corridor featuring arches and niches. This narrow corridor on the ground floor has a long notorious history dating back more than 100 years. In the 19th century, it was used as a lock-up for criminals when the building served as a courthouse. In 1953, when the building was restored to house the new Legislative Assembly, the dungeon fell into disuse. It later became a storeroom for stationery in the 1970s. It is a good space to feature exhibitions of films that are being shown in the Screening Room, located at the centre of the Film Gallery or an alternative exhibition space for art works.

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