Singapore Arts Festival 2008 Post Report


Arts Festival 2008


Post-Festival Report


The 22nd edition of the Singapore Arts Festival (SAF) closed with a splashing end on Sunday, 22 June with the Closing Celebrations Hydro Sapiens, which attracted an 18,000-strong crowd to the Bedok Reservoir. Presenting an exciting and diverse programme mix of world and Asian premieres, new commissions, family favourites and free outdoor shows, the Festival drew close to 0.6 million (598,478) people to its shows over four weeks.


Strong Critical Reception Overall

Most of the programmes this year received plaudits from patrons, media, international visitors, and the arts community. Patrons came, saw, and were pleasantly surprised by the gems in the Festival, offering comments to the tune of, “Great selections this year. Keep it up!”


In addition, critical opinion of the Festival’s productions in both Singapore and foreign media was predominantly positive, with over 50 positive reviews received from the keySingapore media alone. 

  • ‘’The King Lear Project is brilliance that is at once strange, intelligent, irresistible and enlightening.’’ (La Libre, Belgium)
  •  “.. the SFO performed with admirable unison and more importantly, a shared passion.” (The Straits Times, Singapore)
  • “Overall, The Architecture of Silence was a creation that was full of wisdom and thinking that ignite inspirations about life. “(Lianhe Zaobao)


Compliments came from the arts community. For Christophe Slagmuylder, Artistic Director of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, The King Lear Project: A Trilogy left a deep impression. He commented, “Honestly one of the biggest successful projects at this year's festival…The King Lear Project will stay for me as for a lot of the festival audience members, one of the top of this year's festival.”


International visitors also gave their bouquets. One visitor wrote, "... I have no regrets coming down to Singapore for the SAF. It never fails to impress and overwhelm. I love it!"


The Festival’s 19 post-show dialogues, and nine talks and workshops attracted near 3,000 participants, and generated animated discussions on contemporary issues such as teenage violence, social and personal identities, among others.


The Festival also had good attendance at its ticketed performances, with the Core productions garnering an overall house of 74.2%. A total of 18 performances, and 7 out of the 25 productions in the Core Programme were sold out.


Core Programme



 Total No. of productions



 Total No. of performances



 No. of sold out productions



 No. of sold out performances



 Total % house



Sold-Out Performances from Core Programme (18 out of 50)


Date & Time

The Architecture of Silence

29 May (1 show)

For all the wrong reasons

30 May, 31 May, 1 June (3 shows)

Radio and Juliet

3 June (1 show)

The Lord of the Rings Symphony

5 June, 6 June (2 shows)

Forward Moves

7 June (1 show)

Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia

10 June, 11 June (2 shows)

Full Frontal

12 June, 13 June (2 shows)

small metal objects

14 June (1 show)

Class Enemy

18 June, 19 June, 20 June (3 shows)


19 June, 20 June (2 shows)


Expanding Global Connections

An international festival reputed for its quality and progressive programming, the Festival has attracted new international partners in co-commissioning three new works by Singapore artists. This reflects the Festival’s standing in the international festival circuit and augurs well for Singapore artists and arts groups, who are positioned for the global stage.


The Festival’s co-commissioned with the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, The King Lear Project: A Trilogy premiered to standing ovations in Brussels in late May, before performing in Singapore. The co-commission with Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), awaking, also premiered successfully at SAF.


Napoli Teatro Festival Italia approached SAF and selected young theatre company Cake Theatrical Productions’ Temple for the festivals’ co-commission and to present in Naples after the production’s debut in SAF. SAF has established an alliance with theNaples festival to promote collaboration in the commissioning and touring of new works. 


In another coup for Singapore artists one year after the signing of the strategic alliance between SAF and EIF, the latter announced more tie-ups planned with SAF for 2009 and beyond. Ong Keng Sen was also appointed the Leverhulme Artist in Residence inEdinburgh University and will be headed to EIF next year to showcase a project.


As a founding member of the Association of Asian Performing Arts Festivals (AAPAF) and the network’s secretariat, the Festival has taken the lead in building bridges between young Asian arts professionals and AAPAF members by launching an internship award to provide learning and training opportunities for young professionals in arts management outside of their own home countries.


Impressive Performance from Singapore Artists

The Festival has been bold in supporting Singapore artists, with Singapore music featured strongly this year. Works by composers Ho Chee Kong and Tan Chan Boon works were performed by the London Sinfonietta and Singapore Festival Orchestra respectively. Violinist Tang Tee Khoon also made her debut performance with the Singapore Festival Orchestra, which performed to good reviews.


Making a mark on the Festival this year too were the developmental platforms, Full Frontal and Forward Moves, which were well-received by audiences. These platforms remain important channels for promising artists to stretch their creative potential and forge their artistic mettle. Individual Singapore artists made their presence felt in other programmes, with Singapore Dance Theatre’s Ginny Gan wowing the audiences with her confident performances in Amjad.


Bringing the Arts to New and Unusual Spaces

To broaden arts outreach and deepen engagement, unconventional performance spaces were used to open up new possibilities this year. These spaces have allowed the Festival to engage various sectors of the population.

  • The opening and closing celebrations at Boat Quay and Bedok Reservoir added a new dimension to the Festival and gave a new meaning to “arts on water”.
  • Arts Where We Eat roving performances at various food centres brought the arts deeper into the heartlands.
  • Arts on the Move programmes such as La Guardia Flamenca (Belgium), Giraffes (Spain), and The Three Tai Tais (Singapore) on the MRT trains and in the train stations surprised, entertained and engaged the public.
  • VivoCity and Jurong Point Shopping Centre offered their mall spaces for selected programmes.


Engaging New Partners

Building on the success and reputation of the Festival, new local and international partners came on board the Festival this year. The success of the partnerships have in turn strengthened bonds and paved the way for future collaborations. These were:

  • PUB and the Singapore International Water Week for the Water Wonders Series at Boat Quay and Bedok Reservoir
  • National Environment Agency for Arts Where We Eat at four hawker centres
  • VivoCity for the staging of small metal objects (Australia)
  • Clarke Quay and Jurong Point Shopping Centre for selected Arts on the Move programmes
  • VITAGEN Less Sugar and LEGO Singapore Pte Ltd for KIDSFEST
  • Art Friend and Focus Media


The National Arts Council wishes to thank all artists, sponsors, partners and the media for their strong support in the celebration of this premier international arts event.


Please find the following annex enclosed for information:

Annex – Comments from patrons, artists, and Singapore and foreign media