I'm on the lookout for new art forms

SINGAPORE - Esplanade, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, has published a book titled Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay Singapore, which looks back at the local arts scene.

Chief executive Benson Puah, 56, who has helmed the Esplanade since 1998, speaks to My Paper about the iconic arts venue.

What are some of your plans to ensure that the Esplanade remains relevant?

The arts scene is much more vibrant now, with several other venues presenting a range of mostly popular commercial performances. Many of the new venues and presenters are actively promoting the art forms which we have developed audiences for.

We are seeking other forms to develop, broaden and deepen the arts scene even more.

There isn't a grand, big-bang plan for the next 10 years, although there is an urgent need for some additional venues, particularly mid-sized venues.

What can the public expect from Esplanade in the following years?

We are constantly testing the waters with new art forms for our audiences. Whether we can then develop the interest into a festival depends largely on the pace of growth in audience interest.

What makes Esplanade stand out from other theatres here?

We try to give our audiences an "Esplanade Experience" by defining the artistic direction of our venues, and shaping their personality and identity.

What are some of the challenges in managing the Esplanade?

The first challenge we faced even before we opened was the lack of trained staff. We literally started from scratch.

The second was public mindset. The arts were not something that many really understood or embraced. We had to win hearts and minds to develop a relationship with our people and to be relevant.

Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay Singapore is on sale at $49.90 at the Esplanade Concert Hall Information Counter and leading bookstores.

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