Drop in attendance at leaner Singapore Writers Festival but more participants at year-round events

Singapore Writers Festival director Pooja Nansi giving her opening address at the opening ceremony of the festival.
Singapore Writers Festival director Pooja Nansi giving her opening address at the opening ceremony of the festival.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - This year's Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), held last month, drew 25,600 festival-goers across free and ticketed events, a slight drop from the record of 27,000 the year before but still comparable to nearly 25,500 in 2017.

The figures were announced on Tuesday (Dec 3) at a lunch for partners and media.

First-time festival director Pooja Nansi noted that there were fewer events this year - 300, down from 354 last year. "There was leaner programming because we had a lot of feedback last year that the festival was competing with itself. I think the numbers are healthy."

This year's festival, which ran from Nov 1 to 10 with the theme of A Language Of Our Own, had headliners such as Man Booker Prize-winner Marlon James, novelist Min-Jin Lee, travel writer Pico Iyer and cultural critic Roxane Gay.

It also had a showcase of the works of Singapore literary pioneer Rex Shelley, a contingent of Canadian writers and a Youth Fringe curated by students. It explored topics such as feminism, inclusivity and digital language.

The number of participants for year-round events related to the festival rose to 50,200 from 46,500 last year. This includes programmes outside of the festival period, such as student outreach programme Words Go Round and SWF Pop, a year-long pop-up series.

Next year's festival will run from Oct 30 to Nov 8, with France as the country of focus.