The Cultural Medallion

On the evening of 22 October 2013, W!LD RICE Artistic Director Ivan Heng received the Cultural Medallion from President Tony Tan at the Istana. The Cultural Medallion is the highest artistic honour awarded in Singapore. It recognises excellence, commitment and leadership in the arts, and has been conferred on 112 artists since it was instituted in 1979.

Ivan received his Medallion alongside fellow recipients, writer Mohamed Latiff Mohamed and conductor Tsung Yeh.

All of us at W!LD RICE could not be more proud of Ivan!

Ivan with his mother Nancy Ong and partner Tony Trickett

Ivan delivered the following speech when receiving the Medallion:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

First, let me offer my heartiest congratulations to the Young Artist Award Winners tonight. All of you give us such great hope for the future. And to my fellow Cultural Medallion Award Winners, it is an honour to be sharing this very special day with you.

Mr. President, Minister Lawrence Wong, Mum, honoured guests, fellow artists and friends. Thank you so much for this most singular honour.

This means a great deal to me because it is a great recognition, not only of my life’s work, but also of the vital role that theatre plays in our society.

For the best part of three decades, Singapore theatre has held up a mirror to who we are as a people – putting our selves and our stories on stage. I can truly say, hand on heart, that my involvement in theatre has made me a better person, by challenging me to put myself into another’s shoes – and sometimes high heels! – and enabling me to see the world through another’s eyes.

Indeed, all theatre is about the great art of living and getting on with one together. It has been my great privilege and pleasure to entertain audiences here and around the world, and to be a part of the shared experience that theatre offers us all.

It takes a village to make theatre, the most collaborative of all art forms, and I am deeply indebted to so many people, who have placec their faith and trust in me. I would like to thank the following people:

My parents, the late Mr Joe Heng Boon Chuan and Mdm Nancy Ong, who gave me a loving home, values to live life by, and all that they themselves never had.

My mentors, the late Mr Krishen Jit and the late Mr Kuo Pao Kun, Mr Michael Dobbin, and my teachers at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, who have shaped my practice and the way I think of theatre.

My dearest collaborators, Glen Goei and Alfian Sa’at, for the amazing adventures we’ve had… and are having!

Dr. K. K. Seet, for nominating me; watching, writing and sharing his thoughts about almost every production I was ever involved in, and many more in which I was not.

The wonderful playwrights, directors, actors, designers and artists whom I have been blessed to know and work with in the struggle to understand and reflect on the possiblities and problems of our times.

The dedicated production, stage and technical crews who help us convey our work to an audience.

My tireless colleagues and members of the Board of W!LD RICE, past and present, and our Chairman Mr.Geoffrey Yu, for enabling, defending and championing the work we do.

The National Arts Council, and the sponsors, supporters, foundations, agencies and special Angels who make our work possible through their big-heartedness and big-mindedness.

The audience, for coming to share in the experience. You are whom we do it for.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank Tony Trickett, my partner in life, for choosing to take this journey with me, for being my strength and stay through all these years.

I am very grateful and proud to be part of the Singapore theatre community, and I humbly accept this great honour on our behalf.

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