SINGAPORE: Attendance and participation in the arts continued their upward trend in 2017, with 54 per cent of Singaporeans attending arts events and 22 per cent participating in arts activities, according to survey findings released by the National Arts Council (NAC) on Monday (Sep 17).
Both indicators represent the highest since 2005, excluding the peak in 2015 where there was a surge in arts events to celebrate Singapore's Jubilee year (SG50).
Across the various arts and culture forms, heritage-related events and activities continue to enjoy the highest attendance rate (32%), as well as the strongest increase from 2013.
NAC said attendance for visual arts events saw a comparable growth, which could be attributed to the increased accessibility of the art form, with the inception of arts events and festivals such as the Singapore Art Week and the National Gallery Singapore’s Children’s Biennale.
Music was the most popular art form for participation. Having an arts and culture-related hobby or personal leisure activity was the most common form of participation.
The two-yearly national population survey on the arts found that they are becoming a more integral part of Singaporeans' lives, with perceptions of the role of arts and culture in improving quality of life exhibiting steady growth, NAC said.
Of the 2,023 Singaporeans and permanent residents polled, 89 per cent said that the arts and culture gave them a better understanding of people of different backgrounds and cultures, up from 76 per cent in 2013.
A majority of Singaporeans agreed that the arts strengthen inter-generational dialogue and understanding (79 per cent in 2017, up from 62 per cent in 2013).
There was also an increase in interest levels, with 37 per cent of respondents expressing an interest in the arts. Students aged 15 to 24 displayed the highest level of interest (46 per cent) in the arts.
However, the gap between sustained interest in the arts and attendance of arts events continued to widen. This highlights the need to heighten and deepen Singaporeans’ interest in the arts and encourage more works which are relevant and accessible to our audiences, NAC said.
Time continues to be the key barrier to attending arts and cultural events, among those who did not attend any arts events in 2017. Among them, 28 per cent stated that having arts and cultural events close to where they live and/or work would increase their likelihood of attendance.
"It is encouraging to note that the majority of Singaporeans continues to appreciate the value of the arts, especially in terms of enhancing their understanding of the richness and diversity of our society.," said NAC's Chief Executive Officer, Rosa Daniel. "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."
The survey was conducted between January and March 2018.