Growing faith in value of arts among Singaporeans

An increasing number of Singaporeans believe that arts and culture improves quality of life, according to new figures.

The 2013 National Population Survey on the Arts, published this month by Singapore’s National Arts Council, shows a growing recognition of the value of engaging in cultural activities.

More than 75 per cent of those surveyed think that arts and culture help them express their thoughts and feelings, enabling them to be more creative and ultimately improve quality of life.

Kathy Lai, chief executive officer of NAC, said: ‘The arts are for everyone. It is encouraging to note that more Singaporeans see the value and benefits that the arts can bring to their lives. Artists and arts companies can draw on the insights offered by the survey to develop programmes that can reach a wider audience and deepen their engagement.’

She added: ‘With the diverse interests of Singaporeans, it is important to recognise the need to engage audiences at different levels so that they continue to see the relevance of the arts in their lives. It is apparent from the findings that our audiences are facing many challenges in their fast-paced lives and making it easier for them to access the arts would go a long way. The Council will continue to support the arts community and the cultural institutions in enabling all Singaporeans to experience, appreciate and enjoy the arts.’

The study also revealed that 9 out of 10 respondents now consume or engage with arts through digital or electronic media. However live attendance at arts events dropped from 48 per cent in 2011 to 40 per cent in 2011.

Participation in the arts also saw a decline from 19 per cent in 2011 to 13 per cent in 2013. Across the various artistic and cultural genres, heritage-related events and activities enjoyed the highest attendance rate (19 per cent).

More than 76 per cent of those surveyed said arts and culture gives them a better understanding of people from different backgrounds and cultures, while more than half said the arts gives them a sense of identity and belonging.

Alvin Tan, founding artistic director of Singapore’s The Necessary Stage, said: ‘The arts and culture have the power to bring communities together and to shape mindsets. As a theatre practitioner for many years, I have seen how my works have influenced society and how society has influenced mine. It is in this sociocultural exchange that I see a new kind of people and society emerging; and I believe that Singaporeans, deep inside, do see how the exposure to the arts and culture has the potency to develop their approach and perspectives to life.’

The 2013 National Population Survey on the Arts interviewed a total of 2,015 Singaporeans and permanent residents between December 2013 and March 2014.