SINGAPORE: It has been ten years since the Esplanade —— known for its distinctive spiked twin shells —— was born, and attendance at its arts events has more than doubled since then.
To mark its tenth birthday, the Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay will hold a four—day festival from October 11 to 14.
A groundbreaking ceremony in 1996 had marked the start of the construction phase for a performing arts centre.
Stakeholders said the Esplanade was born out of a necessity to change the way the arts scene was viewed in Singapore.
JP Nathan, Director of Programming at The Esplanade Co Ltd, said: "Ten years ago, I think many people did not feel the arts had something to do with them. And they felt it 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.
It has also seen numbers grow. Last year, total attendance for ticketed and non—ticketed events crossed the two million mark, compared to about seven years ago, when the total attendance was just over 900,000.
In recent years, Esplanade has been facing competition from integrated resorts which house their own theatres and bring in international acts.
The arts centre does not view the opening of the IRs negatively. Mr Nathan said that this allows the Esplanade to focus on developing local and unique Asian content.
For its tenth anniversary, the Esplanade will only feature local artists. So expect 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, and 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. It will include interviews, videos and recordings of hundreds of individuals.
Mr Nathan said: "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."
About 180 individuals have been identified so far. The dedicated website is intended to be an ongoing effort that would continue to grow to include more individuals, interviews and information. The public can also nominate an individual to be featured on the website.
For those who do not want to spend money but still want to soak up the atmosphere of celebrations, there will 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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