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Singapore Tatler
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Singapore Tatler: How the Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise Supports Local Musicians

May 15, 2016 | In The News

Singapore’s former ambassador to Russia Michael Tay tells Grace Ma how his Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise supports talented local musicians in their quest for international success.

Acid jazz band The Steve McQueens has a musical journey that is the dream of all local bands. Talent-spotted by Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick in 2014, the quintet not only recorded an album produced by the legend but also opened for his UK jazz funk band Incognito in London’s The O2 Arena last May (a first for a Singapore band).

Their place in the spotlight is thanks to one man working in the shadows, Michael Tay, and the Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise that he established in 2013. Michael, who was Singapore’s ambassador to Russia from 2003 to 2008, started The Foundation as a private sector-led, non-profit platform to develop and promote the arts and socially-oriented projects in Singapore. It achieved charity status in September 2014.

“I wanted to spot and groom outstanding talent that would be the future icons of Singapore to represent us on the global stage,” says Michael, who also runs an investment consultancy. “If we don’t take a purposeful homegrown approach, we won’t be able to achieve that.”

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Michael Tay’s early interest in philosophy has profoundly shaped the way he thinks about issues and trends – simultaneously teaching him how to seek underlying motivations and causes in the area of problem-solving. This, together with his passion for the arts and its place in society, led to the genesis of Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise, which aims to pin Singapore’s art scene onto the world map.