Research interests: audience development, marketing, performing arts, dance, venue management, events management
Why do we watch dance? An inquiry into contemporary dance audiences in Singapore
Growing new audiences has become a critical area for the performing arts sector in Singapore as ticketed audience numbers have been declining year on year. The dance sector in particular sees an urgent need to expand their audience base as it saw sharp 30% decline in ticketed audience numbers within a span of five years from 2013 and 2015 (Ministry of Communications, Culture and Youth, “Statistics Report 2019”). In order to cultivate new audiences however, audience research is a complex but necessary step to undertake so that companies can possess the information they need to design more effective strategies to reach out to potential audiences. Current literature available on dance audiences, particularly in Asia and Singapore, is minimal. Most of the existing studies on performing arts audiences also tend to take a broad-based approach and does not account for the possible nuances within dance audiences, much less, contemporary dance audiences.
For local contemporary dance companies and artists, understanding their audiences is particularly crucial as the task of developing new audiences might prove to be more inherently challenging for them as the art form itself tends to be unfamiliar to most, given the abstraction in its “movement vocabulary” as well as the absence of a “narrative framework” within most contemporary dance performances (Reynolds, 20). Through a mixed method approach, utilising both quantitative and qualitative data from surveys and interviews with current contemporary dance audiences and selected dance companies, this research paper aims to provide a clearer profile of contemporary dance audiences in Singapore. It seeks to better articulate audience motivations as well as their experience of watching contemporary dance and identify what the current gaps are in the efforts to cultivate audiences for the local contemporary dance scene. In doing so, it hopes to give dance companies insights on the measures required to engage more meaningfully with their audiences.
The findings have shown that the primary motivations and benefits of local audiences of contemporary dance does not differ greatly from those that have been identified in existing studies of performing arts audiences. These motivations include – ‘Aesthetic Growth’, ‘Recreation’, ‘The Experience of Something New’, ‘Intellectual Stimulation’ and ‘Connection to Performers’, all of which are influenced strongly by a complex range of background factors that play a crucial role in determining the accessibility and relatability of the show as well as its impact on the individual’s viewing experience. The paper concludes that in order to fully capture the nuances of their own audience base, dance companies as well as funding bodies need to re-shift priorities and channel more resources towards audience research and their efforts to develop the contemporary dance audience base in Singapore for a more sustainable future.
2015 – present
The Esplanade Co Ltd
Manager, Venue Partnership
Assistant Manager, Sector Development
2011 – 2014
LASALLE College of the Arts
Student Recruitment Executive