Singapore Arts Festival Review Committee Unveils Key Recommendations for 2014 and Beyond


The National Arts Council (NAC) today unveiled the recommendations made by the Singapore Arts Festival Review Committee for future editions of the Festival. This series of recommendations comes as a culmination of more than six months of discussions, and includes insights gathered from six public feedback sessions with more than 100 practitioners and members of the public.


Appointed by NAC in June 2012, the Committee comprised 17 members from the arts community, media and related public agencies. They reviewed the Festival’s role in light of a changing arts and cultural landscape, and sought to re-affirm its relevance to the community.


Mr Aravinth Kumarasamy, a Committee member and Creative and Managing Director of Apsara Arts, said, “This review was a timely and meaningful one. It allowed us to have many thoughtful discussions, and it was heartening to hear these diverse and passionate insights from the public, arts community and even within the Committee. I hope our recommendations will help chart the way forward for the Singapore Arts Festival, and ensure its relevance in Singapore’s arts landscape. We look forward to an energised Festival come 2014, one that will inspire memorable art experiences for all Singaporeans.”


Key Recommendations

The Review Committee emphasized the need for artistic excellence and diversity within the arts scene, as fundamental pillars of success for future editions of the Arts Festival. This was addressed in the Committee’s recommendations on:


Festival Purpose

The Committee felt that the Arts Festival in the past had been tasked to achieve too many different objectives, which sometimes conflicted with each other. There was a need to re-focus the Festival on a central objective, to ensure clarity of purpose. The Committee felt that the Festival’s key purpose must be “to inspire diverse audiences with great artistic experiences”. They also identified seven characteristics which they felt the Festival must embody to be successful – Quality, Inspiring, Aspirational, Engaging, Innovative, Collaborative, and Distinctive.


Festival Programming

With regards to programming, the Committee took into consideration the wide range of art forms and programming directions for the Festival. The Committee decided not to be overly prescriptive but instead outlined broad guiding principles to guide the Festival’s artistic director in his/her decisions. These principles include:


  • Professional quality should be the key consideration in programming the Festival.

  • The Programming direction need not be dogmatic, and should strike a balance between international and local works that audiences may not otherwise have the chance to experience.

  • To strengthen the Festival and grow future audiences, education and outreach activities should complement Festival programming.

  • The Festival should be grounded in the performing arts.

The Committee recommended that the Festival be managed by a Festival Company set up by NAC. They felt that this would allow the Festival operational flexibility and diversity in artistic programming. The Committee expressed confidence in this model, and felt that the local arts scene has reached a level of maturity and talent, to produce and manage this large-scale festival. This move will help the arts scene to expand its capability in programming and producing, and enable the Festival to develop a clearer identity of its own.


Drawing from feedback given in the public sessions, the Committee recognized that the Festival can strengthen its relationships with both audiences and artists. In particular, the Committee recommended that the Festival should engage artists in meaningful dialogue beyond commissions, for artists to contribute to shaping the Festival’s programming, marketing and outreach efforts. The Committee also agreed with the public feedback on the importance of the pricing and marketing strategy to ensure that the Festival was accessible and can reach out to diverse audiences.


For the Review Committee’s full report, please refer to ANNEX A.


Next Steps

NAC is generally supportive of the Committee’s recommendations, including the recommendation for the industry to take the lead in organising the festival, while the Government continues to extend support, for instance through providing funding towards the event  Yvonne Tham, deputy chief executive officer, NAC, said, “We are heartened by the dedication and consideration the Committee has shown in putting together these recommendations, and representing both artists and audiences on what they want for the Singapore Arts Festival. There is strong consensus that there needs to be a more ‘focused’ Festival that provides for greater involvement of our maturing arts scene in its programming and even management. Over the next few months, NAC, working with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, will review and release details of the implementation in Feb/Mar 2013.”


Annexes of the Arts Festival Review Committee Report
Annex 1: Reasons for the review
Annex 2: List of Committee members
Annex 3: Minutes of Committee meetings
Annex 4: Minutes of consultation sessions
Annex 5: Operating models of other Festivals around the world
Annex 6: Operating models evaluated