On Oct 5, the National Arts Council (NAC) issued a statement entitled Response to TODAY Online’s Article Published on 2 October 2023. Below is the statement in full.
“On 2 October 2023, TODAY published a response (the “Response”) to NAC’s statement of 1 October 2023, and also released the transcript of the interview of Mr Low Eng Teong, Chief Executive Officer of the NAC.The Response, along with the transcript, in fact underscores the point made in NAC’s earlier statement, that Mr Low’s comments were taken out of context, inappropriately juxtaposed with other parts of the article which were written by the journalist, and as a result, the original article (published on 30 September 2023) was entirely misleading. NAC reiterates the following.Mr Low was the Guest of Honour at NTU CCA’s 10th Anniversary celebration. The TODAY journalist approached him for an unplanned doorstop interview at the sidelines of the event.Mr Low was asked about the work in question, Queer-tai. He replied that he had not seen this performance. Notwithstanding that, the journalist proceeded to ask Mr Low a series of leading questions on “having more LGBTQ themed art pieces…”. In reply, Mr Low did not refer to LGBTQ issues at all. Instead, he made broad observations that “artists will want to create work that speaks to our times”. This typically characterises the work of contemporary artists, and the event at hand was a contemporary arts event. It also bears noting that the NTU CCA’s 10th anniversary celebrations included a series of other performances over a 3-day period. Other than Queer-tai, none had LGBTQ themes. Pressed further specifically about the event being held at NTU CCA, Mr Low did not answer and referred the journalist to the Director of NTU CCA.All this is clear from the transcript of the interview.Despite that, TODAY published an article which cited Mr Low as basis for asserting that the public can expect arts performances that touch on LGBTQ themes. This is entirely misleading. The original article headline put out by TODAY was “LGBTQ-themed arts performances in public spaces in line with the times: National Arts Council Chief”, with the use of the colon clearly but falsely attributing the statement to Mr Low. After the NAC clarified its position, TODAY changed the headline, but the text of the article continues to cite what Mr Low said, taken out of context, as the basis for asserting that the public can expect more arts performances that touch on LGBTQ themes. This is entirely misleading and completely misrepresents Mr Low’s position. NAC would add that this is not an objection to arts performances with an LGBTQ theme per se. We have a clear and consistent position on how such performances can be staged, which we have reiterated in our earlier statement. What we cannot accept is TODAY seeking to use Mr Low’s responses as the basis of its own assertions. We are deeply disappointed that the article misrepresented NAC’s position and misled readers on the matter, and that this was not corrected even after NAC clarified its position, and that NAC has needed to take further steps to correct the public record and rebut a blatantly misleading piece of journalism.”
Editor’s note: TODAY accepts the NAC’s position spelt out above and regrets any confusion caused with regard to the NAC’s position on LGBTQ-themed performances.