Singapore’s arts and culture scene is more dynamic today than ever. Its uniqueness comes from Singapore’s multicultural heritage and openness to global influences. There’s a wide spectrum of experiences on offer from international shows to homegrown productions. Singapore’s arts and heritage festivals, as well as participation in international festivals, make the city both an economic center and a cultural capital – a city with character and life.
The Living in Singapore 15th Edition Reference Guide (LIS) chapter on arts and culture gives an overview of “hardware” like museums, galleries, centers for the arts and performance spaces. The Government has made significant investments in art and cultural spaces throughout the city – some modern and some incorporating existing treasures. In addition, private institutions have created many facilities and opportunities. Apart from the better-known venues such as the Esplanade, there is also information on “arts belts” such as the Civic District around Bras Basah and Bugis and the various Heritage Centers.
As well as “hardware” for the arts, there is also emphasis on raising the standards of the “software.” There is information on arts education as well as local arts groups and arts festivals. The emphasis is on the range of experiences on offer and there is something for everyone. Singapore has a talented, multicultural selection of arts organizations fostering the city-state’s creative atmosphere in the many varieties of the arts ranging from music (classical to rock, pop and Indie), dance (ballet, contemporary and ethnic) and theatrical performances (Shakespeare, classics, Broadway hits). There are many homegrown theater companies located here, each with its own signature style and repertoire, as well as visiting theater groups. There are, of course, big musical productions by international companies that come into town. Popular musical shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Chicago, Wicked and The Lion King have all visited. These will always remain a popular choice for families and for those who enjoy musical entertainment. However, it is also worth attending performances by the local theater groups who often perform plays written by local playwrights such as, Huzir Sulaiman, Eleanor Wong, Alfian Sa’at, Faith Ng, Joel Tan and more. These plays are performed in English but there are also theater groups that perform works in Mandarin, Malay and Indian languages. Not only will the range of productions astound, but also the incredibly high standards of performance. It is worth going to see these productions to get more insight on Singapore mores, humor and to “hear” the voice
Film festivals take place throughout the year, but are not always well publicized. Apart from International and European films festivals, there are a myriad of festivals from other countries as well as ones dedicated to certain topics, for example, the Design Film Festival which features documentary films focused on design and its subcultures – architecture, fashion, pop culture, performance art, technology, photography, product design and more.
Check out LIS for information about local authors, poets and the Singapore Writers Festival as well as information on the local comedy scene and venues where one can catch live comedy acts, where to experience free art performances, installations and more. You will be surprised to know that one can view open-air sculptures by Dali, Botero and Lichtenstein and enjoy concerts and even opera for free.
For the Kids
Singapore is also chock-full of kid-friendly museums, and even the bigger adult ones – such as the National Gallery, Asian Civilizations Museum, and National Museum of Singapore – which offer lots of free programs specially geared toward children and families.
Theater groups like the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Little Company, ACT 3 International and ABA Productions regularly produce plays for young children. There are also a number of special children’s festivals throughout the year such as including Kids Fest. Look out for events like the International Storytelling Festival, a free annual event organized by the National Book Development Council of Singapore and the Arts House.
When it comes to music and dance, organizations such as the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) regularly holds concerts for children. There is the occasional free concert at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which use a lovely stage on a lake that’s perfect for picnics. Dance groups like Singapore Ballet Ltd. (formerly Singapore Dance Theatre) regularly stages abbreviated, child-friendly performances.
Get the details on these events and organizations, and much, much more, in the Living in Singapore 15th Edition Reference Guide!