SINGAPORE, 28 September 2016 – The National Arts Council released its 2015 National Population Survey on the Arts today, the ninth edition of the survey that studies Singaporeans' consumption of and engagement with the arts. In particular, 2015 saw a hike in Singaporeans’ level of interest in the arts from 2013’s edition of the survey - 41 per cent of those surveyed said they were interested in arts and culture; the highest number seen in a decade.
2 Overall, 78 per cent of Singaporeans recognised the benefits and value of attending arts and cultural events and activities, a sharp 15 percentage point increase from 2013. The most common reasons cited for engaging with the arts were because Singaporeans found arts enjoyable, and arts and cultural activities were a good way to spend time with their friends and family.
3 Says Ms Kathy Lai, Chief Executive Officer, NAC, “The findings this year are encouraging and point to a growing recognition of the value of the arts in Singapore. I hope that the detailed findings will help inform artists and arts companies in their efforts to engage and inspire audiences.”
4 The 2015 Population Survey on the Arts interviewed a total of 2041 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) between January 2016 and March 2016. This survey allows NAC to take a comprehensive snapshot of the current level of interest, attitudes and perceptions towards arts and culture activities, as well as audience habits and their influencing factors. This survey is commissioned by NAC and is part of its ongoing efforts in research to provide arts practitioners, partners and industry stakeholders with useful insights to help plan and implement their programmes and activities.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE 2015 POPULATION SURVEY ON THE ARTS
Some of the key findings from the 2015 population survey include:
i) Increased recognition of the value of arts and culture
5 On average, 78 per cent of Singaporeans recognised the benefits and value of engaging in arts and culture, a 15 percentage point improvement compared to 2013. In particular, about 8 in 10 Singaporeans surveyed believed that arts and culture brought personal benefits such as allowing them to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas, enabling them to be more creative and improving the quality of life for everyone.
6 There were also more Singaporeans who understood that the arts had a national role such as building a more cohesive society as well as fostering a stronger national identity. 88 per cent said that the arts gave them a better understanding of people of different backgrounds and cultures, while more than three-quarters (76 per cent) felt that the arts made them feel a greater sense of belonging to Singapore.
ii) Increased level of interest and engagement in the arts
7 The level of interest in arts and culture was found to be at its highest in the last decade, with 41 per cent of Singaporeans expressing that they were interested in the arts – twice as many as those not interested (22 per cent). This growth in interest in the arts also translated into increased overall engagement in the arts with both attendance and participation in arts events spiking in 2015. Findings also showed that Singaporeans’ arts attendance in 2015 was comparable to other developed countries – with 8 in 10 residents attending at least one arts events/activity.
8 The increase in attendance in 2015 may be attributed to the plethora of SG50 arts events and the opening of national institutions such as the National Gallery. Across the various art and culture forms, heritage-related events and activities enjoyed the highest attendance rate (60 per cent), as well as the strongest increase from 2013.
9 Renowned percussionist and co-founder of local arts group NADI Singapura, Riduan Zalani, added: “We have definitely noticed an upswing in the number of attendees with our performances. It might have taken a while, but it is really encouraging to see that more Singaporeans are starting to sit up and take notice of the growing local arts scene.”
iii) Profiles of arts attendees mirror population profiles
10 Based on 2015’s findings, the demographic profile of arts attendees was similar to the population suggesting that the arts were able to reach out to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Attendance also increased across the different population segments. Specifically, 75 per cent of Seniors and 78 per cent of People married with children attended arts events; these were sharp increases from 29 per cent and 35 per cent in 2013 respectively. The percentage of Students who attended arts also rose a healthy 20 percentage points to reach 87 per cent.
11 The inception of programmes such as Silver Arts allow seniors to showcase their creative talents or pick up a new skill to enhance their general well-being, and the different arts education initiatives have also been instrumental in providing exposure for students to art forms and arts education experiences.
12 Says Catherine Sng, Founder and Principal Trainer of The Glowers Drama Group which conducts drama and acting classes for seniors, "Many seniors I work with have grown to be more open to the possibilities the arts can bring. They think, "why not?" when it comes to engaging in arts activities now - a stark difference from a few years ago. I'm proud that many have outgrown the assumption that the arts are out of reach, and that we're moving towards this direction as a society."
iv) Digital arts consumption remains strong
13 Access to the arts in Singapore has been enhanced through digital media, with nearly 9 in 10 (87 per cent) Singaporeans engaging with the arts via digital and electronic media; having read, viewed or listened to some form of arts content using digital and electronic media in the last 12 months. This was driven mostly by the consumption of music performances online (73 per cent). Social media, especially, served as a powerful tool for people to find out about and experience the arts.
iv) Arts consumption extended beyond dedicated venues
14 Singaporeans enjoyed arts performances in a variety of venues in Singapore in 2015. While dedicated arts venues remained the most common choice for arts engagement (35 per cent), more people were engaging with the arts in places such as shopping malls (32 per cent) and neighbourhood locations like community clubs/centres (27 per cent).
15 Ms. Tay Bee Aye, multidisciplinary artist who specialises in public artworks with themes around our community and society, says, “The arts need not be confined to the four walls of a museum, or performance space. I have always derived great satisfaction in bringing the arts directly into the community. This way we can engage with different audiences and reflect on issues of importance in interesting and novel ways together.”