Old School: If only class was this entertaining

Old School: If only class was this entertaining

This underrated venue may look pretty drab from the outside, but within exists a nest of indie movies, local music and cutting-edge modern art
Old School on Mt Sophia
The building of the former Methodist Girls School is now a hive of artistic, independent activity -- Old School style.

In 2007, a small group of entrepreneurs, united by their interest in contemporary urban culture and a vision of deepening the relationship between art and commerce, took over the six-block property of the former Methodist Girls' School on Mount Sophia and turned it into what director Ken Chong calls "a place that's open to everyone, a place to interact and exchange ideas, a place for showcasing interesting art-forms," The result, was simply called, Old School.

A entrepreneur slash comic lover, an architect, an interactive art director, a home and office remodeler and a brand strategist -- the group bonded through a strong sense of community and their individual creative abilities.

That turned Old School into a magnet for artsy types and an impressive platform for Singapore's independent arts scene.

Mabel Tay, Old School's brand strategist and self-appointed publicist, wants to see, "Old School as one of the arteries for the dialogue of art." A lofty goal but an admirable one.

So far, indie filmmakers, photographers, musicians and all manner of artists are flocking to the clarion call of Old School. Well-known fashion photographers Week Khim and Mark Law have made their nests there, as have publishing house Edipresse and even the Philharmonic Orchestra Society.

CNNGo looks at three of the more interesting establishments that have settled into the old school that is Old School.


Sinema Old School

No, the name's not a typo, but a not-too-subtle mishmash of "Singapore" and "cinema." It's also one of the best spots to submerge into local cultures and arts. The owners of Sinema are super-supporters of local productions, so expect screenings of never-before-seen Singaporean and Asian films. Sinema-goers come for the award-winning films such as "881" directed by Royston Tan and "12 Storeys" directed by Eric Khoo. The theater is especially keen on films with strong social messages. Film goers get a cozy cinematic experience with 136 sofa-style plush leather seats plus a state of the art projection and sound system.

#B1-12 @ Old School on Mount Sophia
tel +65.6336.9707

Osage Gallery

Osage Gallery

Art can come in the strangest forms, and some of which don't particularly appeal to the tastes of the masses. But that's art, so Osage Gallery showcases exhibitions that challenge the conventional sense of what art is, and do it through experimental artwork and installations.

Osage (headquartered in Hong Kong and with a gallery also in mainland China) represents some of the most outstanding artists in Asia and works closely with a variety of internationally-respected curators, critics and art historians. The results are exhibitions that are often bizarre but thought-provoking. For example, the Osage Gallery showed an exhibit that, from one angle, looked more like a construction zone than an artistic amalgamation of planks and nails littered along walls, floors, and suspended in the air. From another angle, the broken up pieces coalesced into the shape of a chair.

#01-12 @ Old School in Mount Sophia
tel +65 6337 9909

Timbre @ Old School

Timbre @ Old School

Timbre @ Old School is a great breeding ground for up-and-coming bands and singers, who draw in crowds of local fans and groupies. The brews are reasonably priced and there's a decent menu of pastas, tapas and other mains.

The formula's so successful that the owners have followed up with two other live music in Singapore establishments since -- one at The Arts House and the other at the Substation -- but the Old School branch has a specific focus on pure acoustic live music. There's also plenty of parking up front, which is perfect for off-beat corporate retreats and events.

#01-05 @ Old School in Mount Sophia
tel +65 6338 8277

Getting there

Old School
11B Mount Sophia, Singapore
tel +65 6338 7682