Substation’s final farewell spoiled by pandemic party pooper

The entrance of the arts center on 45 Armenian Street. Photo: The Substation/Facebook
The entrance of the arts center on 45 Armenian Street. Photo: The Substation/Facebook

Tightened COVID measures got in the way of a final farewell for Singapore’s O.G. underground arts hub at 45 Armenian Street.

The Substation, home to punk gigs and experimental exhibitions for over 30 years, canceled its farewell garage sale late last night in line with the latest COVID rules. The arts center has been hosting events commemorating the space since announcing in March it would shut down rather than share the space with additional tenants.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of our goo goo ga jab garage sale due to the return of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert),” the center wrote. “And so this is how we say goodbye. For the safety of the public, we will not be allowing visitors into the space this weekend, but you’re free to come by and snap your photos on Armenian Street if you wish – in groups of 2 and with masks on of course.”

The garage sale, originally scheduled for its last weekend on Sunday, included remnants such as magazines, framed art, signs and mugs from the theatre.

The arts center broke the news of its demise in March after 31 years, saying it rejected a National Arts Council plan to share the historic space — a former utility substation — with other tenants. It said at the time that the move would cost their autonomy over the space and “a fundamental part of its identity and heritage.”

The Substation was opened in 1990 by playwright Kuo Pao Kun and is supported by council grants. It expedited many underground artist collaborations, held hardcore concerts, and promoted LGBT rights.

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