SINGAPORE – Audiences showed up in droves for Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s 20th birthday last year. The arts venue drew 1.77 million visitors from April 2022 to March 2023, according to its annual report released on Tuesday.
This is a more than threefold increase in physical attendances compared to the 2021/22 financial year, which recorded about 450,000 visitors. Audience attendance is now close to the pre-pandemic average of 2 million.
There was also a marked increase in digital attendance, drawing about 1.11 million video and page views as well as listens for Esplanade Offstage, the centre’s online content platform, and YouTube channel. This is a 44.7 per cent increase from the previous year.
Physical attendance was encouraged by the lifting of pandemic measures and the number of paid and free programmes at the venue. The Esplanade hosted 4,562 performances, activities and digital programmes over FY2022/23, almost double the previous year’s 2,976 events.
Since the pandemic, the Esplanade has boosted its support for Singapore artists significantly. This year, 668 home-grown talents created 244 new works there. The arts centre has also committed to reaching underserved communities, with 602 activities for 12,059 participants this year, a leap from last year’s 465 programmes for 7,522 participants.
Despite the increased programming, the centre has kept to a tight budget, with total expenditure rising slightly to $88.12 million this year from the previous year’s $87.14 million.
Total income, however, dipped to $24 million compared with the previous year’s $26 million. However, mall rental income climbed to $6.1 million, a jump on the previous year’s $4.2 million. Ticketing income bounced back to $3.8 million against the previous year’s $954,000.
Sponsorship dipped slightly from FY2021/22’s $1.59 million to $1.3 million. The centre reported that its Gift A Seat initiative brought in $71,600 this year for the Singtel Waterfront Theatre, bringing the total amount raised to $937,700 since the scheme was launched in 2019.
The new flexible mid-size Theatre cost $30 million. Government funding covered $10 million and telco Singtel donated another $10 million towards construction.
The centre’s Grow #mydurian campaign, which invited the public to adopt the building’s virtual aluminium sunshades, also raised close to $60,000 with 548 virtual “spikes” adopted from October 2022 to June 2023.
In her statement in the annual report, Esplanade’s chief executive officer Yvonne Tham noted that cultural change takes generations to build, and the past two decades were a solid foundation for the arts centre.
She added: “As Esplanade steps into ‘adulthood’, we will no doubt meet greater challenges of a more complex world. With your continued support, Esplanade has already started charting this journey with the next generation.”
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