NAC, STB accepting applications for larger outdoor show pilots

The pilot applications for outdoor live performances allow up to 250 audience members in zones of 50 each.
The pilot applications for outdoor live performances allow up to 250 audience members in zones of 50 each.PHOTO: AEG PRESENTS/COLLECTIVE MINDS

The National Arts Council (NAC) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will be accepting pilot applications for outdoor live performances for up to 250 audience members in zones of 50 each.

Under phase three of Singapore's reopening, audiences of up to 250 in groups of 50 are also allowed in indoor venues, NAC said in a statement, in response to Straits Times queries.

This is up from an audience size of up to 100.

Ms Rachelle Tan, 42, the Esplanade's director of venues and planning, said the first performance at the arts centre with 250 audience members will be Rock 21 at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Friday.

The venue has been conducting pilot trials for up to 100 people at its outdoor theatre.

Ms Tan added: "We will also increase audience capacity from 100 people (in two zones) to 150 people (in three zones) at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre from Jan 1, in line with safe management measures."

Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) executive director Terence Ho, 50, said the new limit will benefit only larger spaces such as the Esplanade and Star theatres.

These venues, with seating capacities of more than 1,000, can accommodate the bubble-wrap seating which necessitates 1m distances within groups of 50, and a 3m distance between groups of 50, as well as separate entrances and exits for each group.

Under these guidelines, the SCO's Singapore Conference Hall venue can accommodate only up to 125 audience members.

Mr Ho is hoping instead to expand audience sizes for SCO's outdoor performances, starting with a gig at the Botanic Gardens next month.

Concert promoters The Straits Times spoke to have no plans yet to organise any outdoor shows under the pilot.

IMC Live Global is planning a series of concerts at Capitol Theatre over the next two months for live audiences of up to 250.

On Dec 18 and 19, AEG and Collective Minds organised a trial indoor concert at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands which had mandatory pre-event Covid-19 testing and an audience of 400.

Singapore has trialled pre-event testing for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions events and live concerts.

Mr Ho said there have been discussions about conducting antigen tests for SCO musicians and crew as a preventive measure.

But the prohibitive costs - several thousand dollars for each performance involving 50 to 70 staff - as well as the infrastructural demand, are a deterrent.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth is extending an existing 80 per cent subsidy for venue hire and in-house production cost until March 31.

The subsidy is for arts and culture activities at venues such as the Esplanade, National Gallery Singapore and National Heritage Board museums.

The subsidy is also extended to selected arts centres with shared facilities under NAC.

• Additional reporting by Eddino Abdul Hadi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2020, with the headline 'NAC, STB accepting applications for larger outdoor show pilots'. Subscribe