SINGAPORE - In the year before it was decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore's arts and cultural scene was booming, with events and museums drawing record numbers.
Attendance at arts and cultural events reached an all-time high of 15.6 million in 2019, surpassing 2018's record of 13.6 million, according to the Singapore Cultural Statistics report released on Tuesday (Jan 26).
Visitorship to museums and heritage institutions came close to 9.6 million that year - another record high.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said in a statement: "Singaporeans showed a strong interest in our arts and culture in 2019. This reflects the hard work and qualify offerings presented by our arts and culture practitioners."
Non-ticketed events continued to drive the rise in attendance, as they have done since 2013, hitting a record 13.6 million in attendance in 2019. This was due in part to large-scale annual events such as the Singapore Heritage Festival and Singapore Night Festival.
Ticketed attendance for performing arts events was nearly 2 million, the second highest since 2013.
Despite this, the total gross takings for the performing arts fell to $79.9 million from $92.1 million the year before.
In 2019, visitorship to institutions in the Museum Roundtable - comprising more than 50 public and private museums and heritage galleries - reached an all-time high of close to 9.6 million, a 16 per cent increase compared to 2018.
Visitorship to national museums and heritage institutions also hit a new record high of almost 5.8 million, the highest since 2013.
The year 2019commemorated the Singapore Bicentennial, which numerous events and exhibitions took as their theme and which gave rise to blockbuster programmes such as the Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning Park.
The arts and cultural sector employed 26,300 people in 2019, comparable to previous years. In preliminary figures for 2018, the sector was valued at $1.8 billion, a figure which has been rising steadily since $1.5 billion in 2013.
But all this is likely to change in the report for 2020, as the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth predicted a sharp decline in cultural statistics due to the pandemic.
Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law, said: "While Covid-19 has deeply affected the sector in 2020, the Government is committed to working closely with our partners to sustain livelihoods, provide work opportunities, and develop new and related capabilities to position our arts and culture for the post-Covid-19 recovery.
"I ask all Singaporeans to continue supporting our arts and culture, as a source of enjoyment, learning and pride."