SINGAPORE: Arts events attendance at the Esplanade has more than doubled in the ten years since it was opened ten years ago.
A groundbreaking ceremony in 1996 marked the start of the construction phase for the performing arts centre.
Stakeholders said the Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay was born out of a necessity to change the way the arts scene was viewed in Singapore.
J P Nathan, director of programming at The Esplanade Co Ltd, said: "Ten years ago, I think many people did not feel the arts was something to do with them. And they felt that the arts was only for a privileged few."
Since then, the Esplanade has strived to be an arts centre for everyone by catering to different tastes in music, dance, theatre and visual arts.
And it has seen its numbers grow.
Last year, total attendance for ticketed and non—ticketed events crossed the 2 million mark, compared to financial year 2003/2004, when total attendance was just 949,906.
But in recent years, the Esplanade has been facing competition from the integrated resorts, which house their own theatres and bring in international acts.
Esplanade does not view the opening of the IRs negatively, Mr Nathan said, as it can focus on developing local and unique Asian content.
To mark its tenth anniversary, the Esplanade will hold a four—day festival from October 11 to 14 featuring only local artists.
There will be contemporary and classical music concerts and theatre—productions which pay homage to local musicals like Beauty World and Forbidden City.
All 11 ticketed programmes will be new productions. The development of each new production will be charted with video clips of rehearsals, interviews with directors, lighting and stage designers.
And to acknowledge those who helped build the local arts scene, a website ——
—— will be launched on October 12.
The dedicated website is intended to be an on—going effort that will include interviews, videos and recordings of hundreds of individuals.
"The artists, I think, are often recognised, but the art scene is more than artists. There are educators, administrators, patrons and what we are trying to find is a way to actually acknowledge and record the contributions of all these people," Mr Nathan said.
About 180 individuals have been identified so far. The public can also nominate an individual to be featured on the website. It will continue to grow to include more individuals, interviews and information.
There will also be more than 20 free shows taking place over the anniversary weekend.
The shows will be largely music—based and spectators can expect to hear all new collaborations.
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