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A. Sachithananthan, an arts administrator who has worked over three decades promoting Indian fine arts, has been instrumental in advocating traditional, cultural arts in the face of modernisation. A former teacher and principal, Sachithananthan has used his talent for organisation and management to help artists. Currently still sitting on the management committee of the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Association (SIFAS), Sachithananthan is a firm believer in the integrating powers of arts and culture.
Born in 1929 in Singapore, A. Sachithananthan—or Sachi, as he is affectionately known to many—was a late bloomer in the arts. While he displayed a keen interest in music and dance as a schoolboy through the impact and influence of his religious parents who introduced spiritual music and sacred dance to him, Sachithananthan did not go beyond his regular role as an audience member until the 1950s.
Then, a friend who was a vice-president at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Association (SIFAS) encouraged him to apply his administrative skills to artists and shows brought in by the association, so that it would lead to more professional and less ad hoc management. Sachithananthan had by then served a long career in education as a teacher and as a principal. Seeing that he had something of use to offer to the arts for which he felt so passionate, Sachithananthan agreed and began a many-decade long career in arts administration with SIFAS that would see him contribute significantly to the development of Indian arts in Singapore.
At SIFAS, Sachithananthan served as a producer and promoter of shows featuring both Singapore artists and international artists, featuring legends like Ravi Shankar and Leela Samson in the early days. He believed in having strong foundations in classical art forms, and put up shows that showcased leading Bharatanatyam dance schools from India including Kalakshetra.
Sachithananthan also had a progressive mindset, and believed in the evolution of classical arts to reflect the identity of the place where it is practised. To this end, he found time to attend performances by other cultural groups to explore how a cross-cultural collaboration might take place, resulting in shared presentations with Chinese and Malay cultural organisations such as the Buddhist Association in Singapore.
Besides his service to the performing arts, Sachithananthan was also a key player in organising art exhibitions and symposiums, organised in close collaboration with the National Arts Council.
In 1972, he stepped up to the role of a management committee member in SIFAS and began serving as a vice president, a role that he continues to hold today. As part of his efforts to raise the artistic standards in Singapore, Sachithananthan would invite Indian classical art teachers from India to come to Singapore to teach artists here. In 1974, he brought this effort to its full realisation, setting up the SIFAS Academy of Fine Arts, to further develop and refine the teaching and learning of Indian classical arts in Singapore.
Since 1977, Sachithananthan has also been serving the People’s Association as the vice chairman of the Narpani Pearavai Indian Activity Group, organising cultural programmes at various community centres around Singapore.
In recognition of his efforts and contributions to Indian arts in Singapore, he received the Long Service Award from the People’s Association in 1987 and the Special Recognition Award by the Ministry of Information and the Arts in 2000. In 2001, Sachithananthan received the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal).
Sachithananthan currently continues his work in the arts with SIFAS and the People’s Association, passionate in his belief that arts and culture provides a people with their inner strength and identity.
Born in Singapore.
Graduated from Teachers' Training College.
Literary Secretary, Ceylon Tamils' Association.
Member, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society.
Member, Singapore Certified Teachers' Association.
Organised Children's Day and annual Youth Festival.
Chairman, Geylang District Sports Council.
Member, Siglap Citizen Consultative Committee (arts and culture).
Secretary, Ramakrishna Sangeetha Sabha.
Vice president, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society.
CEO of The Performing Arts Co, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society.
Life member, Singapore Indian Education Trust.
Set up the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society Academy of Fine Arts.
Board of Governance, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society.
Chairman, Indian Cultural Month.
Vice chairman, Narpani Pearavai Indian Activity Group, People’s Association.
Chairman, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society 25th Anniversary celebration committee.
Member, Mountbatten Citizen Consultative Committee (arts and culture).
Music Consultant, National Arts Council.
Received Long Service Award from People's Association Community Service.
Received Special Recognition Award from the Ministry of Information and the Arts.
Received Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal).
TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.
In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.