This article first appeared on Hear65.
When the brains behind The Substation announced its closure in March, many mourned. If not for its cementation as a pantheon for the flourishing of performance arts, and its longstanding reputation as an enclave for debuts, then equally as a venue for championing culture - including ones that were scorned at, shunned away, and downright obscure.
The institution stood as a beacon of protest against the decades it's lived through alongside the growth of our nation, igniting the way for sub-cultures and pockets of communities that are and will perennially remain indebted to it for its bravery. It took a pandemic to predictably quell its flames (understandably, like many other shut venues), but recent news of a re-birthing 2.0 project spells redemption yet.
The non-profit national treasure will soon have its history resumed from a different locale with bigger sights, legacy firmly intact, its moving out from 45 Armenian Street just a turning of chapters.
We take a look at its last moments with photo commentary from some of the team before it looks for a new forever home - but not too long, as onwards, forwards it goes.
“Technician Azril and a member of Nature Society of Singapore, Mdm Tan, measuring the Bodhi and fig trees at The Substation Garden for conservation purposes.”
“Tentang Langit (artist alias of The Substation technician Azril) and Hell Low performing at The Substation Theatre for the very last time on 18 July 2021.”
“Facility Manager, Isyraf and technician Azril clearing out The Substation Basement only to have realised the magnitude of items kept over the past 30 years.”
“The Substation staff and part-time technicians taking a break after an intense decluttering session during the reinstatement period, which lasted for two weeks from 9am – 12am daily.”
“Our dearest caretaker and custodian, Mrs Chua, dropped by to pass the reinstatement team some snacks — twisties, Tims Tams and bananas — to cheer us on!”
“With the help of part-time technicians, Facility Manager Isyraf and technician Azril cleared out items for disposal during the reinstatement period."
“Facility Manager Isyraf and part-time technicians packing the remaining important items for temporary storage.”
“A quiet moment amidst the chaos — Facility Manager Isyraf taking one last glance of The Substation Garden before saying goodbye.”
“Part-time technicians removing the curtains at The Substation’s Dance Studio — a bittersweet task made bearable with a touch of cheerful antics.”
“Sound recording tapes of past The Substation programmes were found during the reinstatement period. They have since been sorted and handed over to good hands for archiving.”
“Facility Manager Isyraf and technician Azril removing fans in the corridor with the assistance of part-time technicians.”
“Programme Manager Marilyn attempting to play a farewell tune for The Substation on a cello left behind by former Artistic Director, Effendy.”
"Facility Manager, Isyraf, an employee of The Substation for a decade, reminiscing his golden memories at The Substation on a discarded sofa in the corridor.”
“Technicians wrapping up The Substation signboard for temporary storage.”
“Packed items waiting to be sent for temporary storage, where they will remain until the launch of The Substation 2.0.”
“Technicians Azril and Izzad with Facility Manager Isyraf working very hard to ensure a smooth handover process in the days leading up to the final farewell.”
“Part-time technician Bud Young moving the SAD Bar sign into the truck for temporary storage.”
“Part-time technicians Firus and Izzad taking a break from the strenuous reinstatement exercise in what used to be the staff’s favourite hangout spot — the Random Room.”
“The Last Ones Standing — the final crew who oversaw the reinstatement exercise.”
“The removal of The Substation signboard was a quiet but poignant one.”
See you at the next one.