Construction starts on new $30 million waterfront theatre at Esplanade, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Construction starts on new $30 million waterfront theatre at Esplanade

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Construction has begun at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay on a new $30 million waterfront theatre, which is slated to open in the second half of 2021.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who was the guest of honour at the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, noted that the new 550-seat theatre came about in response to feedback about a gap in the arts landscape in Singapore.

She said that arts groups wanted to develop performances beyond studio-sized shows, "but the leap from a 200- to 300-seater to a 1,000-seat theatre - let alone the Esplanade's almost 2,000-seat Theatre - may be too ambitious at one go".

The mid-sized theatre will also have flexible seating, rather than the standard proscenium stage design.

This will make it "a place where arts groups can create something new, create something interesting", said Ms Fu.

The new theatre will occupy a 3,000 sq m area along the Esplanade Waterfront and is being designed by a team led by local firm, architects61.

It will be named the Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade, to recognise the telco's $10-million donation towards its construction.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth also contributed an initial $10 million, which will go towards the theatre.

The Esplanade has raised about $1 million more through fund-raising activities, such as backstage tours and gala events, and is expected to raise the remaining $9 million.

Donations are solicited through dollar-for-dollar matching programmes with private sponsors and other events.

Esplanade chief executive officer Yvonne Tham noted that the new flexible-seat theatre is being designed for generations of artists to come.

"That's why it can't have a form that's fixed because a 17-year-old artist could be making theatre in a form we can't imagine yet," she said.

Ms Fu also noted that many young artists here had their start in non-ticketed, outreach events by the Esplanade.

She added that her ministry and the National Arts Council would continue to support ticketed and non-ticketed arts and cultural events.