National Population Survey Reveals Findings on Consumer Art Trends in Singapore






The Singapore Arts Festival 2003 drew about 348,000 people to its events, compared to 277,000 in 2002.  Are more Singaporeans interested in the arts? Yes, according to a study commissioned by the National Arts Council.


First conducted in 1996, the Council commissions a national population survey every 3 years to reveal current consumer trends, habits and factors motivating Singaporeans’ interest in the arts.  The scope of the survey includes attendance of arts events in Singapore, audience profile, types of performances preferred, ticket prices of performances and perceptions towards arts-related issues. The study was conducted from October to December 2002.


Ms Carol Tan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the National Arts Council, says “As the leading agency to develop the arts, NAC is interested to find out how the changing lifestyle of Singaporeans relates to their pursuit of arts and culture. Among the data, we found that two in three Singaporeans engage in or attend arts related activities, compared to one in two Singaporeans in 1999. These findings help us in formulating strategies to drive arts consumption, increase participation rate and raise the level of arts appreciation.”   


The study was conducted through telephone interviews with 1,314 Singaporeans and 213 expatriates, aged 15 years and above. 


Findings of Study - Highlights

1. Almost two in three Singaporeans (64%) have some interest in the arts* [51% in 1999].
* includes reading a novel, attending arts events / exhibitions, buying works of art / craft, playing musical instruments, writing stories / articles / poetry, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpting, photography, participating in drama, dance, ballet, video filming, singing in choirs.

2. 27% of Singaporeans have attended an arts performance or visited an art exhibition in the past twelve months [15% in 1999, 11% in 1996].  This has increased by 12% points over the past 3 years, attributable to the penetration of arts education and outreach efforts.

3. Amongst these 27% Singaporeans, the mean number of times he/she attends an arts event is 2.92 in the past year.

4. The profile of Singaporean arts audience is skewed towards the younger age-groups, i.e. 15 to 19-year-olds (19%) and 20 to 34-year-olds (38%).  The proportion of students within the Singaporean arts audience has increased to 44% from 25% in 1999.

5. The key reason cited for attending arts events is “Relaxation”(63%).  This was also the key reason from the 1999 study (51%).  Other reasons are “Spending time with my family / friends”, “Seeing a specific event or performer”, “Pursuing my interest in the arts”.

6. The main reasons for not attending arts events are “Difficult to find time” (57%) and “Not interested in the arts” (52%).

7. 16% of Singaporeans are Regular Arts Lovers and 18% are Occasionals.  The remaining 66% of Singaporeans are found to be our Potential Arts-Goers (see Annex for definitions). 

8. 76% of Singaporeans have no preference for Asian or non-Asian arts productions [53% in 1999].  43% of Singaporeans agree that they would pay more for a foreign production compared to a local one.

More details on the highlights are at the annex.



(a) NAC’s efforts in audience building and making the arts an integral part of Singaporeans’ lives have reaped notable results. 

(b) Need to further develop the Regulars and nurture the Occasionals into Regulars.

(c) Long-term, broad-based education and outreach efforts are required to slowly and systematically nurture the Potential Arts-Goers.

(d) Successful in growing new audiences in the age group 15-34 years but need to focus on maintenance of the sector beyond 34 years old.

(e) Perception barriers in terms of pricing, high brow image, accessibility, etc need to be overcome through strategic marketing communications and education.

(f) Good attendance by expatriates showed that Singapore has much to offer in terms of the number and appeal of its arts events.

(g) Continue to collaborate with partners like the Ministry of Education, arts and tertiary institutions as well as other arts agencies to promote the arts in Singapore.