Drop in performing arts attendance but overall arts activity up

While overall arts activity in Singapore remains on an upward trend, 2012 saw a drop in attendances at performing arts and heritage events despite the bustle of the scene.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth explained this in a press release, saying that "this was due to the market adjusting itself after the initial spike of popular musicals, such as The Lion King and Wicked, brought in by the integrated resorts when they first entered the scene".


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Here is the full statement from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth:

Singapore's arts and cultural landscape has grown significantly over the years, with more reported arts activities, as well as more people attending and participating in arts and culture events compared to a decade ago. There has also been more emphasis on quality over quantity over the years. The Government's efforts to make the city-state into a regional art hub have been assertive, with more being invested to facilitate the development of the sector.More young people are also pursuing an arts education in Singapore.

A GROWING ARTS AND CULTURE SCENE FOR ALL SINGAPOREANS

According to the Singapore Cultural Statistics 2013 Report[1], there are more reported arts activities in 2012, with an average of 23 arts performances and 49 exhibitions happening each day, compared to about 10 arts performances and 30 exhibitions a decade ago.

At the same time, statistics show that there is a growing appreciation for the performing arts in Singapore. More people are attending arts events, with ticketed attendance at arts events increasing from slightly under a million in 2003 to almost two million in 2012.

Ticket sales for performing arts events have nearly doubled over the decade, with total tickets sold for performing arts events increasing from 0.7 million in 2004 to 1.2 million in 2012. Total gross takings have also more than doubled over the years, from $32.8 million in 2004 to $80.6 million in 2012. This reflects a growing appreciation for the performing arts in Singapore.

Meanwhile, year-over-year comparison showed that ticketed attendance and gross takings for performing arts events fell in 2012, after an all-time high the previous year. This was due to the market adjusting itself after the initial spike of popular musicals, such as "The Lion King" and "Wicked", brought in by the Integrated Resorts when they first entered the scene.

Non-ticketed attendance for heritage events declined in 2012. This was a result of the National Heritage Board (NHB)'s shift from large-scale events to more targeted ones with better quality of engagement.

The report also details an encouraging trend in the area of arts education and involvement. The number of students who are enrolled in full-time tertiary arts courses has increased over the years, from 1,860 in 2004 to 4,492 in 2012. This shows the growing interest of youths in pursuing an arts education in Singapore.

At the same time, more arts companies[2] and arts societies are entering the scene. There were 1,260 companies and 386 societies in 2012, compared to 302 arts companies and 247 societies in 2003.

Government funding for arts and culture has also continued to grow, increasing by about ten per cent from 2011, to $478.9 million in 2012.

THE GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT IN THE ARTS AND HERITAGE

Besides the increase in funding, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), together with the National Arts Council (NAC), NHB, the National Library Board (NLB) and People's Association (PA) have been partnering the Private and People sectors to increase the richness and quality of engagement efforts, to bring Singaporeans together and build a shared culture through arts and heritage.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said: "MCCY will continue to step up our efforts in engaging our partners, to improve the quality of arts and heritage experience for Singaporeans, and to bring Singaporeans together to build a shared culture. We are heartened to see a strong response and a good turnout for various events such as the Singapore Night Festival, Singapore HeritageFest, Noise Singapore and the PAssionArts Movement. I would like to encourage more Singaporeans to not only take part in these events, but also get involved in the arts and heritage at a more personal level, such as learning to play a musical instrument, or joining an arts class at the community club."

Many meaningful initiatives and programmes have been introduced to engage different pockets of the community such as students, volunteers and interest groups, as well as encourage whole-of-society ground-up and self-initiated arts and heritage initiatives. Some notable examples include NHB's Singapore HeritageFest, NAC's "Let's Connect" networking sessions, PA's PAssionArts Movement and NLB's Young READ!. The list of initiatives is found in Annex A. Volunteers and participants of selected community engagement initiatives who are available for interview are found in Annex B.

NAC, NHB, PA and NLB will continue to grow this partnership between the Government, corporations and individuals, and excite more Singaporeans to be involved meaningfully in arts and culture development.

The Singapore Cultural Statistics 2013 Report is available on www.mccy.gov.sg.

Notes

[1] Published annually since 2008, the Singapore Cultural Statistics 2013 Report provides an update on the state of the arts and cultural landscape in Singapore. The arts and cultural statistics encompass arts and cultural performances of genres like dance, music, theatre and literary arts, and heritage events such as museums exhibitions. The Report compares arts participation patterns and related variables from 2003 to 2012, covering a decade of arts engagement.

[2]From 2012, the number of arts companies comprises companies that (i) play a role in content creation/distribution such as sound recording production companies, publishing companies, (ii) deal with retailed musical instruments and photographic equipments, (iii) conduct classes/courses in the arts (e.g. dance, music schools) as well as new categories of arts companies involved in crafts and literary arts. Also included are companies such as artist management companies and educational companies that do not fit in neatly into a certain art form.

LIST OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES

a. Singapore HeritageFest

Now in its tenth year, the Singapore HeritageFest (SHF) is a signature community engagement event by NHB that highlights the best of the city's multicultural heritage and the rich history that is shared by all Singaporeans. The festival is held in public venues across the heartlands as well as in the city.

In 2012, the SHF garnered a record number of 19 corporate partners, 21 community partners and more than 250 volunteers who came on board to contribute donations, in-kind sponsorships, programme content, resources and guiding services. The festival had 11 community-initiated events as well as 11 Festival Hubs and in total, SHF 2012 reached out to 1.3 million visitors. After the festival, exhibitions from the festival hubs travelled to 15 more venues thus attracting another 88,000 visitors.

This year's SHF continues its strong emphasis on community collaboration, with 64 corporations and individuals chipping in to conceptualise, develop, and present programmes that resonate with Singaporeans.

b. PAssionArts Month 2013

Organised by PA, the PAssionArts Month 2013 reached out to 100,000 residents over the month-long festival from 30 March to 28 April 2013. It actively engaged 4,000 residents as art participants and programme volunteers and 41 artists/arts groups participated in the festival to co-create projects with residents. 84 per cent of the audiences surveyed found the programme interesting, 73 per cent replied that they would recommend the festival to their friends and neighbours, and 77 per cent said that they would return to the festival next year.

This year's PAssionArts Month was followed by the inaugural PAssionArts Awards 2013 which gave out a total of 30 awards to recognise the best ground-up ideas put up by the Community Arts & Culture Clubs (CACCs). The awards were presented to 21 CACCs on 29 May 2013 at Kallang Community Club. Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth was the Guest-of-Honour for the event.

c. NAC Community Engagement Programmes

NAC's Community Engagement Programme involves NAC working closely with stakeholders and community partners to develop arts programmes/initiatives in the community so as to encourage arts participation and to inspire life-long engagement in the arts. The aim is to make the quality arts accessible to people of difference ages, interests and backgrounds, and link them through shared, participatory arts-based programmes.

i) District Arts Festival

NAC is supporting CDCs' arts initiatives including the District Arts Festival by Southeast CDC's (SECDC), a year-long arts engagement focusing on theatre, literary arts, and photography activities. The programme consists of new initiatives such as a photography symposium and a Senior Arts Festival as well as their signature 24-hour playwriting competition/ dramatised reading of the winning work in collaboration with TheatreWorks, and Urban Sensation - a partnership with Goodman Arts Centre.

ii) First Library Community Node at Woodlands Regional Library

NAC supports nodes of influence within the heartlands in the community to broaden and deepen arts engagement. These community nodes are leveraged as shared spaces and touch points to facilitate the community sharing and participation in the arts. In April 2013, NAC in collaboration with NLB launched the first library community node at Woodlands Regional Library. Titled 'Art Fresco', this year-long initiative also aimed to offer a sustained level of quality arts programmes that the public can enjoy at their doorstep. The launch event held on 24 Mar 2013 was very well received with 1,500 pax participating in some 10 arts activities to give residents a glimpse of the whole gamut of arts programmes that they can look forward to in the year. Residents were very keen in these programmes and look forward to see more of such arts activities near their home.

(iii) Noise Movement

Noise Movement was introduced by NAC in 2012 to seed ground-up programmes organised by arts companies and individuals that reach out to young people. Such programmes provide opportunities for young people to continue their creative journeys even after they have left school. A total of eight programmes were supported with funding of $106,808 between April 2012 and March 2013. The programmes included mentoring programmes, concerts, exhibitions, a craft fair and a mobile darkroom that brought introductory photography workshops to the heartlands. The project initiators were a mix of collectives and arts companies like Phunk, Objectifs and Handmade Movement. Over the next four years, Noise Movement will support a growing number of participatory arts programmes to cater to the diverse ways that young people express themselves.

iv) NAC's Arts in the Social Sector

NAC's Arts in the Social Services Sector - NAC recognises the intrinsic value of the arts to serve as a tool for health, wellness and rehabilitation. NAC's focus will be in creating advocacy on the impact of arts on health and wellness and to date, NAC has seeded the following collaborations:

· TSAO Foundation - They will be supporting three community arts programmes with established community artists, including ceramics by Lim Hua Choon, percussion by Syed and fabric art by Tay Bee Aye.

· Singapore General Hospital - They will organise an Arts for Health programme including regular concerts, wards-based art programmes, and community arts projects with a strong focus on arts volunteerism.

· Alzheimer's Disease Association - There would be a series of Peranakan Museum tours and a photography programme will be tailored for clients suffering from dementia.

v) Dialogues sessions among community arts practitioners

As part of NAC's continuing efforts to encourage and facilitate fresh collaborations and perspectives for community engagement, NAC supported ArtsWok to organise the Greenhouse Sessions, a year-long programme of six dialogue sessions among community arts practitioners, with the first session held on 15 April at the Necessary Stage Black Box. This session focused on artists creating programmes for companies/workplaces. NAC also organised its quarterly Let's Connect Session for community arts practitioners and stakeholders in May.

d. Launch of Young READ! under NLB's READ! Singapore 2013

READ! Singapore is an NLB national reading campaign. To fully engage with younger readers, this year's campaign launched Young READ! which was supported by the ACSR. A specially formed Youth Book Selection Committee, made up of teenagers from different schools, unveiled its 24 selected titles and one anthology comprising three folktales in the four official languages. These works will form the basis of programming for young readers for the year.

e. Arts & Culture 101 (AC101)

NLB has successfully developed and completed the first of four thematic and age-specific AC101 series for FY13. From April to June 2013, a series of story-based arts curated specially for children was introduced at all public libraries. A total of 247 programmes engaged 11,188 participants. Comments from parents affirmed the suitability of library spaces to introduce the arts to young children, as libraries provide highly conducive and safe social learning environments. In addition, NLB introduced the Traditional Arts for Seniors between Jul and Sept 2013.

f. Singapore Night Festival

Organised annually since 2008, the Singapore Night Festival is NHB's signature festival based in the Bras Basah Bugis district, Singapore's arts and cultural belt.

As part of the festival, NHB museums such as the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, and the Peranakan Museum open their doors to the public way into the night. Precinct partners such as The Cathay, Timbre, Vanguard Building, CHIJMES, and SOTA, have also stepped forward over the years to play a vital role in the festivities. The Night Festival also provides a platform for local artists and performers to participate in this large scale cultural event.

g. Heritage Grant Scheme

The Heritage Grant Scheme by the NHB was introduced on 1 August 2013, with a total fund pool of $5 million to be disbursed over a period of 4 years, from FY 2013 to 2016. The Heritage Grant Scheme is aimed at raising public engagement with the preservation and promotion of Singapore's heritage. The Heritage Grant Scheme will:

a. provide project funding to active individuals, non-profits and interest groups with little or no financial support to develop heritage-related projects and take greater ownership of Singapore's heritage,

b. enable the community to deepen their knowledge of Singapore heritage through active participation, and

c. increase the impact of the community's efforts through documentation, publication and exhibition.

This new Grant Scheme will complement existing NHB's community outreach and engagement efforts, and other grant schemes administered by agencies such as the NAC.

h. Arts and Culture Presentation Grant

The Arts & Culture Presentation Grant (ACPG), which is managed by NAC and supported by MOE and NHB, aims to create more opportunities for students to showcase their work beyond the school community, especially for those who have limited opportunities to do so, and to encourage more youths to continue their interest in the arts beyond their school-going years.

36 schools accepted the grant, out of which 25 schools have presented their student showcases. For example, Macpherson Primary and Siglap Secondary jointly organised a free public angklung concert at Republic Polytechnic Cultural Centre in June.

i. Dance Talent Development Programme

Jointly organised by NAC and MOE, the Dance Talent Development Programme aims to provide CCA dance students with wider exposure and value-added experience beyond what is provided in schools. In addition, it hopes to bring students with a keen interest in dance together and also introduce them to avenues for continued engagement with professional dance groups after they graduate.

Phase 1 of the programme was held from 3 to 8 June at LASALLE College of the Arts and was attended by 198 Secondary 3 students in two waves over the 6 days. Each student went through a three-day workshop in dance techniques, dance appreciation and improvisation conducted by six dance companies (Singapore Dance Theatre, Frontier Danceland, O School, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Association, Era Dance Theatre and Bhaskar's Arts Academy). Out of the 171 students who attended auditions, 38 have been selected by the different companies to continue with Phase 2 and attend 30 hours of training at the respective companies' studios. The third phase will involve the 38 students receiving an additional 30 hours of creative movement training with LASALLE College of the Arts, Dance Faculty which will culminate in a graduation showcase in March 2014.

j. Travelling Exhibitions

NHB has a selection of travelling exhibition titles that travel regularly to various schools, libraries, community clubs/centres, shopping malls and other public spaces to promote different aspects of our heritage.

Popular titles include:

a) Delicious Heritage: This exhibition tells the stories of our forefathers who created our unique hawker dishes, and presents our shared culinary heritage through the sights, sounds, and smells of Singapore food.

b) Kampong Games, Kampong Fun: This interactive exhibition allows visitors to relive kampong memories by teaching them to play traditional games such as five stones, goli (marbles), congkak, hopscotch, kuti kuti and capteh.

c) Singapore Portraits: A tribute to some of Singapore's most creative personalities, this exhibition features the works and stories of local artists which together tell the story of Singapore.

Other titles include the Community Heritage Series (featuring Provision Shops, Void Decks, Wet Markets) and the Resilience Through Heritage Series (featuring the Hotel New World collapse, SARS epidemic). h. Silver Arts

UPCOMING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES

The coming months will see a suite of enriching programmes as the Government continues to ramp up its efforts to work with its partners to make arts and heritage readily accessible to our communities. Some of the planned programmes include: a. Creating Heritage Spaces

NHB will develop a comprehensive network of heritage spaces to reach out to heartland communities and bring people together while raising awareness of their immediate neighbourhoods, so as to strengthen people's sense of belonging and pride in their unique heritage. b. Community Museums (CMs)

One of NHB's new signature outreach initiatives under its Community Engagement Masterplan, the CMs provide a novel and meaningful platform to engage new audiences in the heartlands.

These dedicated public spaces showcase artefacts and artworks from NHB's collections, archival images, as well as community contributions. Community involvement will be a key focus of the CMs,through public programmes and co-creation opportunities designed to engage and educate residents. Residents will be involved in shaping the gallery spaces through displaying their creations, co-curating exhibitions, etc. This will foster greater community pride and ownership of our heritage, while bringing people together.

The first CM, Our Museum @ Taman Jurong, was launched at Taman Jurong Community Club in Jan 2013. The second CM is being planned for the new Tampines Town Hub and is slated to open in 2016. NHB will work with partners such as PA and NLB to develop a network of CMs at Community Clubs, public libraries or other public spaces over the next few years. c. Heritage Trails

As part of its community outreach efforts, NHB has developed more than 10 national heritage trails around the island to showcase the heritage of various local areas, such as the Balestier Heritage Trail, Jalan Besar Heritage Trail and Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail. These heritage trails connect Singaporeans to these areas and their rich heritage, through the featuring of monuments and historic sites, as well as lesser known aspects of our community history. In 2014, NHB will be launching the Toa Payoh Heritage Trail. d. Community Galleries within the National Museums

The Stamford Gallery is NHB's first community gallery within the national museums. Opened on 6 July 2012 at the National Museum of Singapore, the gallery provides a space for the stories of Singaporeans to be told and shared, and reflects our ongoing efforts to engage the community in different ways.

To date, two community exhibitions have been held at the Gallery. 45-65: Liberation, Unrest…a New Nation (Jul 2012 to Jan 2013), was conceptualised with the help of Nanyang Girls' High and Fuhua Secondary School, who contributed their valuable feedback to the exhibition. The second exhibition titled Trading Stories: Conversations with Pioneering Tradesmen (Mar to Jun 2013), features the old trades of Singapore through the stories of the individuals who plied them, and includes artefacts and memories contributed by members of the public. Both exhibitions are the result of close collaborative efforts between the community and NHB to showcase our rich heritage.

e. Arts & Culture 101 (AC101)

NLB is organising a new thematic series on Technological/Digital Arts for adults from October to December 2013. Another series themed Street Arts targeting youths will run from January to March 2014.

f. National Story Challenge 2014

NLB will be organising a series of roadshows and training programmes in schools, community centres and libraries for the National Story Challenge which promotes improvisational storytelling.

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