SINGAPORE : The Singapore Arts Festival should take on a sharper focus when it makes a comeback in 2014.
The committee tasked with reviewing the event said the key focus should be to inspire a diverse audience with great artistic experiences.
This means making the Singapore Arts Festival the pinnacle platform for the arts and running the festival autonomously.
The Singapore Arts Festival has been a regular fixture on the arts calendar for more than 30 years since 1977.
But with an increasingly crowded arts calendar, ticket sales have been on the decline.
The festival’s organiser, National Arts Council (NAC), decided to take a break this year to review the role of the annual event.
The review committee said past festivals may have taken on too many objectives — covering tourism, community, artistic, national education and outreach areas.
Janice Koh, a member of the Arts Festival Review Committee and a Nominated MP, said: "As a national and international platform that was organised by a government agency, the festival was under pressure to be multicultural, to represent Singapore artists, to showcase the best of international work, to be accessible to the masses, to educate the public and so on and so forth.
"They are all good objectives in their own right, but they are very challenging to balance and execute. You can’t please everyone, which I think what it was trying to do.
"The committee felt there was a need to go back to the basic role of the Arts Festival, which we agreed was to programme a diverse range of work that Singaporeans may not have had the chance to experience."
As for the festival’s programming in the future, the committee also set out several guiding principles.
These include the need to ensure professional quality in programming the festival, striking a balance between international and local works, building a sustained relationship with artists, and keeping ticket prices accessible to a wide range of audiences.
Education and outreach activities should also complement the festival’s programming, while the event should be grounded in the performing arts.
The committee has also suggested that the festival be run with greater autonomy. This is also in line with other arts festivals around the world.
It has recommended that the NAC set up a dedicated company to run the festival.
Ms Koh said: "If it were headed by an independent board of trustees or directors, and supported at arm’s length by the government, that would really add a fresh point of view and diversity in an arts scene, which is currently dominated by one or two players."
The committee has also suggested establishing a Festival Centre in the city, which will allow for year—long programming.
NAC said it is working on the recommendations.
Its top priority for now is to find a festival director who will lead the charge for the Arts Festival in 2014.
Yvonne Tham, deputy chief executive officer of the National Arts Council, said: "It will be a festival that will hopefully be even closer to audiences — a diversity of audiences.
"We do hope they will see the degree of conversation and dialogue this festival has with our local artistic community, and the kind of productions that would otherwise not be possible if we did not have such a festival."
The committee has recommended that the arts community initiate and organise smaller—scale activities during the festival period this year instead.
This will help gear up for the comeback of the Arts Festival in 2014.
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