Straits Times: Record 9.2 million attend free arts and cultural events in 2016

SINGAPORE - Attendances at free, non-ticketed arts and cultural events hit 9.2 million last year, the highest since 2012 and a slight increase from the Jubilee Year boom, according to the Singapore Cultural Statistics 2017 report released on Thursday, Dec 7.

Figures included attendance at outreach festivals organised by the National Heritage Board and museums, such as the Singapore Night Festival and Singapore Heritage Festival.

A record 5.1 million visited national museums and heritage institutions in 2016. This is up from 3.8 million visitors reported in 2015.

Last year also had the highest number of free performing arts activities on record - nearly 6,000 - and 2.8 million attended these, about the same as in 2015.

The data was released on during the annual conference of the Culture Academy Singapore, established by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in 2015 to groom the next generation of cultural leaders in the public sector.

Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Grace Fu said at the conference that the positive trend in visitorship and number of free arts and cultural events suggested that Singapore was on the right track to develop a more vibrant scene. However, she added, that more could be done.

"We can do more in revitalising our city and spaces through place-making. We must continue to engage our stakeholders and to do so more deeply, to build on our existing efforts. We need sustained engagement and purposeful programming to effectively make a place," she said.

Earlier, she highlighted that the annual Singapore Night Festival boasted 10 times more stakeholders now than its initial edition in 2008 and such stakeholders were co-creators rather than passive venue sponsors.

Last year's 5,931 non-ticketed performing arts activities included community arts events organised by the National Arts Council as well as festivals organised by the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay.

According to the Singapore Cultural Statistics 2016 report, the Jubilee Year celebrations in 2015 had nearly 5,000 non-ticketed performing arts activities. This boosted total attendance at non-ticketed arts and cultural events to 9 million.

Akshita Nanda