New streaming platform Sistic Live allows fans to support artists by paying for online gigs

Viewers can watch the Esplanade x Sistic Live streams for free. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Audiences can help support the arts and entertainment industry here by paying for online performances and events at new streaming platform Sistic Live.

Launched by Sistic, the largest ticketing agency here, it will help arts and entertainment practitioners earn an income. Many have had their live performances and projects put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The platform will also feature free online workshops and classes.

Its inaugural offerings include three productions under the Esplanade x SISTIC Live series, as well as a free storytelling series by arts group Gateway Arts.

While viewers can watch the Esplanade x Sistic Live streams for free, they are encouraged to pay $5, $10, $20 or $50 for tickets. Proceeds will go to the companies featured in the productions.

The series, which runs from May 24 to 31, includes a screening of dance drama Anjaneyam - Hanuman's Ramayana that was staged during the Esplanade's annual Kalaa Utsavam - Indian Arts Festival in 2017.

Viewers can watch the performance any time within the streaming period by getting an e-ticket from the Sistic website. They will then be given a link or barcode that will direct them to the video page.

Sistic chief executive officer Joe Ow tells The Straits Times that the livestream platform had been in the works even before the pandemic forced the cancellation and postponements of live performances.

"We have several initiatives in development to implement our new strategy focused on digital, innovation and customer experience, driven by longer-term trends of mobile and digital-first audiences," he says.

"Covid-19 ensured we accelerated that roll-out, and that's why we have Sistic Live today."

He adds that Sistic has reached out to the arts community and will populate the platform with more content, even after restrictions on live performances are lifted.

"We expect livestreaming and blended events with live and online audiences to be the new normal as we move out of the Covid-19 situation."

And while customers have in the past complained of issues such as the Sistic website crashing when trying to buy tickets for popular performances, Mr Ow says the company has taken steps to ensure the online platform runs smoothly.

"We have not only upgraded our platform to improve the queuing and booking process, but we are also monitoring and working with our event organisers and technology partners to continuously improve our customer experience."

Mr Aravinth Kumarasamy, the artistic director of Apsaras Arts, says the pandemic is a challenging time for the dance troupe, which has had its performances and international tours cancelled.

"As a non-profit charity arts organisation, it is going to take us a long time to regain normalcy," he adds.

"The support we can get from this screening will go towards our efforts to sustain ourselves and put our dancers back on their feet as soon as possible. We appreciate this kind gesture by Sistic and the Esplanade."

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