Singapore’s Arts Scene Remained Buoyant in 2008


Singapore’s Arts Scene Remained Buoyant in 2008



The 2008 arts statistics released by the National Arts Council (NAC) today showed that the arts scene in Singapore was resilient in the face of the economic downturn, registering positive growth in some areas.



Over 29,000 arts activities were staged or presented in 2008, giving audiences in Singapore a choice of over 80 activities on any day. This represents a 10% year-on-year increase.  


Visual Arts

The visual arts scene was unexpectedly active amid the downcast economic climate. The number of exhibitions increased by 14% to 937 in 2008 and each exhibition averaged 24 days. The number of exhibition days soared to over 22,000 days, giving a year-on-year growth of 17%.


The dominant organisers of exhibitions were the art galleries which staged 400 exhibitions. Forty new galleries entered the scene in 2008. National museums and major visual arts events like the Singapore Biennale, Month of Photography and Singapore International Photography Festival also contributed to the lively visual arts scene. Grassroots organisations such as community clubs, resident committees, and Community Development Councils played a major role by doubling their contributions to the total number of exhibitions to 9%.


Performing Arts

The total number of performances (ticketed and non-ticketed performances) declined by 8% to 6,864 in 2008 from its peak of 7,449 in 2007. However, the dip was less than the 10% slide in 2003, the year of the Asian Financial Crisis and SARS outbreak. Theatre and music accounted for over three-quarters (77%) of all performances in Singapore.


Non-ticketed performances (3,452) declined by 15% which fuelled the dip in the 2008 number of performances. Commercial organisations like shopping centres and impresarios reduced their free performances by half amid the weak business environment. The downward pull was mitigated by established arts and cultural festivals like the Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore Street Festival, Huayi, Mosaic Music Festival and da:ns Festival, which contributed more than 500 of the 900 free performances.


Ticketed performances (3,412) were up 1% in 2008.  Theatre performances made up the majority (58%) of the ticketed performances, of which seven to eight out of 10 shows were local productions.


Ticketed Attendance

Ticketed performances attracted close to 1.54 million attendees, an increase of 3% from 2007. Each ticketed show averaged 450 attendees compared to 440 in 2007. Theatre remained the biggest crowd puller with a 14% increase in attendance from 2007.


Arts Organisations

As more art galleries, music and theatre companies, and music societies were formed, the number of registered arts-related companies and societies also spiked at 922 in 2008, up from 794 in 2007.


*Arts Audiences – Level of Attendance, Profile

Two in five Singaporeans (40%) attended at least one arts and cultural event in the past 12 months.


The top five types of events attended in 2009 were musicals, street arts performances, pop/rock/indie/alternative music performances, classical/non-classical orchestra music performances, and community arts & cultural events.


Audiences attended an average of 4 arts events in the past year.


In spite of the economic downturn, 82% reported no change in their attendance patterns for arts events and activities in the past year. However, looking ahead to the next 12 months, one in four (25%) said that they are quite or very likely to attend or participate in arts events and activities.


Arts attendees tend to be young, students, better educated, and more affluent.


*Arts Audiences – Interest, Attitudes

One in three persons is interested in the arts in general.


14% of Singaporeans are Core arts lovers and 22% are High Potentials. The remaining 64% of Singaporeans are Potentials (36%) and Challenging (28%). 


Broadly, Singaporeans have a positive attitude towards the arts. 53% of Singaporeans agreed that exposure to the arts “broadens my mind and encourages me to be more creative.” 47% agreed that arts events and activities have “enriched the quality of their lives”. 42% agreed that attending arts events and activities that reflect Singapore’s culture “enhances my sense of belonging to Singapore”.


*Findings from the national population survey 2009 conducted through face-to-face interviews with Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, aged 15 years and above. The survey is commissioned by NAC once every 3 to 4 years to establish the level of public interest and attendance in arts and cultural activities, and to track attitudes towards the arts.


Details of arts statistics and survey findings can be found on: