Meet The Great Women Of Our Time 2017 Arts & Media Nominee, Sarah Martin
Sarah Martin, 45, Chief Executive Office, Arts House Limited

By her own admission, Sarah Martin’s experience in crafting something out of nothing has served her well in the past. “I’m a builder. I’ve always been a builder,” she declares confidently.

“I started my career as festival director of WOMAD and I built that brand, its identity and its home in Singapore and several other countries as well. After that I became Singapore Grand Prix’s director of operations. I was there in the first year when we had no rule book and we had to put it all together; I was a builder then, too.”

She’s hoping she strikes gold again at her current tenure, which she has taken over the helm of, replacing outgoing chief executive Lee Chor Lin.

Her new position will see Sarah manage the Singapore International Festival of Arts, which runs from 28 June to 9 September 2017, along with multiple arts venues such as The Arts House in Old Parliament Lane, Aliwal Arts Centre in the Bugis area and the Goodman Arts Centre in Goodman Road. The last is home to the National Arts Council as well as various arts groups.

“The Arts House Limited has great potential to be a massive intermediary for the arts scene,” she declares. “We’re in the best position possible to help artists, to grow audiences, only because of the nature and hybrid that we are.”

Sarah is no stranger to the arts – she was festival director and regional operations director of the Womad international music festival over a 10-year period in Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea and New Zealand.

“For me, joining Arts House Limited is like coming home. It’s a full 360-degree circle back to the arts. I feel like my soul is dancing! It’s been a wonderful welcome and something that’s been very close to my heart because working in the arts is more than just a job,” she says.

“You need to make a full commitment of self and be part of something that is bigger than yourself. It’s something that’s organic at the same time, and it’s very real yet also intangible so it’s very hard to describe how I feel coming back to my roots in a sense.”

Still, Sarah knows she’s got her work cut out for her. “It’s early days at the moment and we have a lot of work ahead of us. It’s not easy to build distinct identities for each centre, it’s not easy to deliver an international festival of the arts, but I think this year if we focus inwards and we build upon the foundation that we have, we’ll be a true asset to the arts scene here in Singapore.”

In the grand scheme of things, however, Sarah hopes to support Singapore’s arts development so it can flourish to its full potential. “Art House Limited is aiming to strengthen the eco-system of support for each centre in a way that’s unique to each centre,” she explains.

“So, between balancing the facilitating of the arts scene, as well as venue management, we’ve got a skill set that is primed for us to grow and really support the arts scene in its best way possible.”

Words to live by: “You cannot just focus on the forest, you must be mindful of the trees.”

Next up: “We’ve opened The Artground this year, which is a brand new multi-disciplinary children’s arts centre at Goodman Arts Centre. It offers a place for children between zero to 12 to have an encounter with the arts. It is also a space where artists can collaborate to develop programmes that reach out to young children.”

The Great Women Of Our Time 2017 is proudly presented by Lancôme.