New waterfront theatre at Esplanade by 2021

New waterfront theatre at Esplanade by 2021
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A $30-million waterfront theatre is slated to open at the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay by 2021.

The 550-seat venue will give arts groups much-needed space and attract more audiences.

The new mid-sized theatre was announced yesterday by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu during the annual theatre awards organised by The Straits Times Life section.

At the M1 - The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards ceremony at the Esplanade Recital Studio, Ms Fu said the Government would contribute at least $10 million to the new waterfront theatre.

The Esplanade will raise the rest.

In her speech, Ms Fu mentioned that local troupe Checkpoint Theatre's ongoing run of school drama Normal was sold out but could not pay for itself.

The play needed a 300-seat venue to break even but is shown in the 120-seat Drama Centre Black Box.

Artists here have long felt the lack of theatres with 500 to 1,000 seats. Most new works of dance and theatre created in Singapore or overseas are meant for such mid-sized spaces but the existing Esplanade Theatre and Esplanade Concert Hall seat almost 2,000. The Esplanade also has two 200-seat studio spaces.

Ms Yvonne Tham, Esplanade's assistant chief executive officer, said that last year, due to the lack of a suitable theatre, viewers had to be seated on the stage of the Esplanade Theatre to better appreciate a new work by Thai troupe Pichet Klunchun Dance Company.

Community, school and professional arts groups now battle it out for the 600-seat Drama Centre Theatre and similar-sized Victoria Theatre, managed by the Esplanade.

The spaces are 80 per cent in use and heavily in demand during school holidays.

Victoria Theatre is booked till 2019, said Ms Tham.

Construction will begin in 2019, and to raise $20 million, the Esplanade will offer naming rights for a fixed term of more than 10 years - for the new building, specific facilities, or even programmes.

akshitan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 11, 2017.
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