SINGAPORE — The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s upcoming 550-seat waterfront theatre broke ground on Tuesday (18 June), a major step towards its opening in 2021.
The $30 million venue – announced in April 2017 – will be named Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade for 15 years from its opening, in appreciation of the telco’s $10 million donation last year, said Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu Yang at its groundbreaking ceremony.
It is the largest single donation that Esplanade has received since it opened its doors in 2002. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth had also contributed $10 million to kickstart the effort, while mall tenant Makansutra Gluttons Bay has pledged to donate $100,000.
The remaining $10 million of funds required would be raised through corporate sponsorship and public fundraising. To help do so, the Esplanade has launched a series of fundraising initiatives on Tuesday.
One campaign will allow donors to adopt or gift a limited number of seats in the Singtel Waterfront Theatre for a minimum sum of $2,800 per seat.
A separate campaign will see donors play a game to “virtually” dig up 5,000 plots – each representing one square metre (sqm) of land for the upcoming theatre – for a donation of $10 per plot. It aims to raise $100,000, with founding donor Bowen Enterprises contributing a dollar-for-dollar matching donation of up to $50,000.
Lee also called on for philanthropists and companies to adopt various spaces at the upcoming theatre, including its sheltered waterfront linkway, a green room where artists mingle and rest, and its dressing rooms.
On Tuesday, guest-of-honour Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said that the upcoming theatre is a response to a call from local artists and arts groups, who may find moving from a 200-300 seater to a 1,000-seat theatre “too ambitious at one go”.
The proposed medium-sized venue, along with its modular and customisable configuration, can cater to the needs of such groups without them having to leave the “comforts” of the Esplanade, she added.
Currently, the Esplanade’s two main performing venues are its 1,600-seat Concert Hall and its 2,000-seat Theatre. It also runs two smaller venues: the 220-seat Theatre Studio and 245-seat Recital Studio.
Fu said, “The new Singtel Waterfront Theatre will help our artists push their artistic boundaries, scale up their works, and serve as a launch pad for our talent.”
With its customisable configuration, the venue will allow artists to create more experimental and inter-disciplinary work, said Dr Samuel Wong, 36, creative director of The Teng Company, a non-profit arts company focusing on Chinese instrumental music.
“The 550-seat capacity will also be quite useful for art groups to tailor their work and for them to be able to reach a larger audience,” said Dr Wong.
The Singtel Waterfront Theatre is set to sit on a 5,000sqm site along the Esplanade Waterfront, comprising The Edge – one of the venues for the annual Baybeats music festival – and the Waterfront Carpark.
It will be integrated into Esplanade’s Annexe area, including existing food and beverage outlets and its Annexe Studio, which was converted from former nightclub Queen and re-opened in 2016 as a venue for gigs, workshops, and rehearsals.
To celebrate its development, the Esplanade has partnered Makansutra Gluttons Bay in an initiative called The Food Stage which runs from now to 30 June, where visitors can purchase and dine on exclusive off-menu items such as seafood fried popiah, carrot cake “fries” with BBQ wings, laksa seafood stew, and soft shell crab mui fan.
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