Participation in arts events reaches highest levels since 2005, excluding SG50 year

More than 50 per cent of Singaporeans have been attending arts events - the highest level since 2005 with the exception of 2015.
More than 50 per cent of Singaporeans have been attending arts events - the highest level since 2005 with the exception of 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than half of Singaporeans have been attending arts events - the highest level since 2005 with the exception of 2015, according to a survey commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC).

A total of 2,023 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents were interviewed between January and March this year for this survey, which was released on Monday (Sept 17).

According to the 2017 National Population Survey on the Arts, 54 per cent of Singaporeans attended arts events, while 22 per cent took part in arts activities.

Both of these figures are the highest on record since 2005 - excluding 2015, when there was a surge in arts events to celebrate Singapore's 50th year of independence (SG50).

Of those surveyed, 37 per cent expressed interest in the arts - the highest percentage in the last decade, again excluding 2015 (41 per cent). The figures were 28 per cent in 2013 and 36 per cent in 2011.

But there is still a gap between sustained interest in the arts and attendance of arts events. There was a 17 percentage point difference between interest and attendance - a wider gap than in 2011 and 2013, which both had a 12 percentage point difference.

The NAC said that this highlights the need to heighten and deepen Singaporeans' interest in the arts, and encourage more works that are relevant and accessible to their audiences.

Among the respondents, 46 per cent did not attend arts events, often citing a lack of time as a key reason. Nearly 30 per cent of them noted that they would be more likely to do so if there were arts and cultural events near where they lived or worked.

Of all the demographics, students aged 15 to 24 were most involved in the arts.

Nearly 70 per cent of them attended at least one arts and cultural event or activity over the past year, as opposed to just a third of those aged 65 and above.

"It is encouraging to note that the majority of Singaporeans continue to appreciate the value of the arts, especially in terms of enhancing their understanding of the richness and diversity of our society," said NAC chief executive Rosa Daniel.

"However, more still needs to be done to grow Singaporeans' interest in the arts and culture, and to sustain arts attendance and participation. We hope the findings in the survey will provide insights for our artists and arts groups to create and present more works which are accessible and relatable for Singaporeans.

"NAC will also continue to focus our efforts in audience development and engagement so that more Singaporeans can come together to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the arts," Mrs Daniel added.