Monday, November 3, 2008

New head for arts school

After a year-long search, the Lasalle College of the Arts has appointed Professor Alastair Pearce, 54, as the fifth president of the arts school in McNally Street.

The Briton, who came to Singapore last Thursday, started work yesterday. He will hold the post for three years.

Speaking to the press, he said: 'I hope to encourage interactivity between the different art forms while remaining sensitive to each area's autonomy.

'Singapore provides the perfect environment for artistic innovation, lying at the crossroads of so many vibrant creative traditions.'

He takes over the post from National Arts Council chief Lee Suan Hiang, who was appointed as interim president and chief executive officer in February, after the departure of Professor Robert Ely and two vice-presidents, Richard Berry and Alan Lourens.

Prof Pearce, who has a doctorate in music analysis, was the principal and CEO of Rose Bruford College, a prominent performing arts school in London, from 2001 to earlier this year. He has also held key advisory posts in major education and policy- making bodies in Britain.

He is here with his wife, paediatrician Maureen Cleary, who will start work next month at KK Women's and Children's Hospital. The couple have no children.

Mr Lee said: 'His experience and leadership will be invaluable in developing key academic frameworks for contemporary arts education, and deepening Lasalle's dialogue with contemporary arts practitioners, educators and creative leaders.'

Prof Pearce is taking over the helm at the 24-year-old arts school after it was mired in controversy last year.

Lasalle had said that former president Ely and the two vice- presidents left to 'pursue their professional interests', but industry sources cited disagreements with the Education Ministry as the reason for their departure.

The ministry had wanted funds given to Lasalle to be used solely for subsidising diploma programmes rather than degree programmes, which Lasalle offers.

Asked about this, Prof Pearce said he wants to start on a clean slate.

He added: 'I want to look forward and focus on quality of training, education and interaction with the creative industries.'

With 28 years of education and the arts under his belt, he said he is looking forward to learning and absorbing the arts scene here.

'One of the things that attracted me was the support for the arts from the highest levels here,' he said. 'When Singapore decides to do something, it really does it. The arts scene looks extremely promising and Lasalle is at the cutting edge of arts education. Otherwise, I wouldn't have made such a big move.'

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