Bras Basah Road – the main thoroughfare between Orchard Road and Marina Centre – supposedly got its name because rice arriving on cargo boats used to be brought here to be dried (beras basah means “wet rice” in Malay). The zone between it and Rochor Road at the edge of Little India has a transitional sort of feel, sitting as it does between the Colonial District and what were intended to be “ethnic” enclaves to the northeast. In recent times city planners have transformed the area into a nexus for the arts, with many distinguished old properties on and around Waterloo Street being turned over to arts organizations, including the Singapore Art Museum. The country’s leading institutes in the field have also been lured here, among them the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) on Bencoolen Street; and the School of the Arts, in a striking new building next to the Cathay cinema.
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