Singapore museum visitorship up, performing arts attendance down

Visitors to the National Museum of Singapore. Visitorship to public museums hit a record high in 2013, even as attendance at ticketed performing arts activities fell. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
Visitors to the National Museum of Singapore. Visitorship to public museums hit a record high in 2013, even as attendance at ticketed performing arts activities fell. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

Visitorship to public museums hit a record high in 2013, even as attendance at ticketed performing arts activities fell.

These were some of the key findings of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's annual Cultural Statistics report, released on Dec 9, which gives the latest figures on dance, music, literary arts, theatre and heritage events.

About 3.2 million people flocked to public museums compared to 2.8 million in 2012, despite the number of museum activities going down from 29 to 20. This increase in visitorship follows a move by the Government to allow free entry to these museums for Singaporeans and permanent residents in May last year.

The ministry says that this increase was "mainly due to a focus on longer exhibitions with increased programmes for the public to deepen their experience with heritage and culture".

The number of ticketed performing arts activities saw a dip from 3,497 activities in 2012 to 3,006 in 2013. Correspondingly, the ticketed attendance at performing arts events saw a dip from about 2.1 million to 1.9 million.

The ministry has refined its approach to collecting data in this report; instead of collecting figures from arts venues and government agencies, which all use different collection methods, they collected figures from ticketing agencies and the People's Association last year for a more standardised approach.

These findings mirror the National Population Survey on the Arts released last week by the National Arts Council on attendance levels at these activities.

Similar to the arts council, the ministry explained that a "key factor" for this decline was the novelty of the Integrated Resorts, which opened in 2011 and brought with them "a slew of musicals and artistic offerings that boosted the number of performing arts activities in 2011 and 2012". They also added that the Singapore Arts Festival - now the Singapore International Festival of Arts - was on hiatus in 2013, an event that would normally pull in large crowds.

All the same, total non-ticketed attendance grew from about 17.9 million in 2012 to about 18.2 million last year. This includes upticks in attendance at heritage events (from about 5.1 million to 5.7 million) and library events (from about 10.2 million to 10.4 million).

While there were fewer reported visual arts activities in 2013 than in previous years, each exhibition was held for a longer period - an average of 29 days per exhibition in 2013 compared to 21 days in 2003. The number of activities has been falling steadily since a high of 999 in 2010, to 559 last year.

Government funding for arts and culture has also leapt from $541.4 million in 2012 to $677.3 million in 2013. This was attributed to the development of the National Gallery Singapore and the refurbishing of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

corriet@sph.com.sg