Esplanade to raise funds with artist-led tours

The Esplanade has to raise $20 million for a waterfront theatre which is expected to open in 2021.
The Esplanade has to raise $20 million for a waterfront theatre which is expected to open in 2021.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Other fund-raising efforts include a gala dinner for new $30-million theatre

The Esplanade is ramping up efforts to raise funds ahead of the construction of a new $30-million mid-sized waterfront theatre, slated to begin in early 2019.

The national performing arts centre plans to hold its first fund-raising gala dinner in June next year, with 30 tables laid out on the stage of the Esplanade Theatre, from which it hopes to raise $1 million for the new theatre.

It will also be holding smaller-scale fund-raising events such as artist-led backstage tours, as part of its year-long #mydurian campaign - referring to the centre's twin spiked domes that resemble the tropical fruit - to celebrate its 15th anniversary, beginning this month.

The new 550-seat theatre is expected to open in 2021 and cost $30 million, a third of which will come from the Government. The remaining $20 million is to be raised by the Esplanade through corporate sponsorship and public fund-raising.

A multidisciplinary team led by an architect and comprising a theatre planner and/or acoustician, as well as other consultants and designers, will be selected by the end of this year.

Esplanade chief executive Benson Puah says: "As we step up our fund-raising efforts, we feel it important to offer a range of fun and unique fund-raising activities to encourage people from all walks of life to support us in whatever way they can to take ownership of 'mydurian'."

The Esplanade's Backstage Pass With… series of eight tours will run every Saturday from the end of this month until mid-December.

The tours will be led by the likes of performers such as actors Hossan Leong and Siti Khalijah and singer-songwriter Inch Chua, as well as senior Esplanade staff such as head of production management Isis Koh.

Mr Puah, who will lead a tour himself, says that while regular backstage tours conducted by Esplanade staff are available for group bookings from the public, these tours will be different. Each "will be peppered with very personal insights and anecdotes, covering spaces and passageways that may not be part of the regular backstage tour".

The tours of 20 people each are meant to raise at least $16,000 for the new theatre.

A fund-raising exhibition, 80by80, will also be held in the Esplanade Tunnel from later this month until January next year. Thirty-eight local artists, among them prominent contemporary figures such as Ian Woo, Milenko Prvacki, Vincent Leow and Zai Kuning, have donated new works measuring 80cm by 80cm.

The works will be up for an online public auction from Oct 19 to Nov 19, with proceeds going towards the Esplanade's free programmes, including its visual art exhibitions.

The Esplanade is also placing donation boxes around its public spaces, including the Concourse, box office and information counter, for visitors to make donations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Esplanade to raise funds with artist-led tours'. Print Edition | Subscribe