SINGAPORE: The Esplanade is launching a series of new fundraising initiatives to raise the remaining S$9 million needed for its S$30 million waterfront theatre.
The project, first announced in Apr 2017, will be named Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade for 15 years from its opening in 2021, in appreciation of the telco’s S$10 million donation last year.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has also committed S$10 million to kickstart the effort.
Another S$1 million was raised through various events such as the Esplanade Gala fundraising dinner last year, and the Backstage Pass With... fundraising tours in 2017.
Construction of the new 550-seat theatre began on Tuesday (Jun 18). In conjunction with the groundbreaking ceremony, the Esplanade is rolling out a series of initiatives to reach out to a spectrum of supporters, from the general public to philanthropists and foundations.
A public fundraising campaign called Ground Up will allow members of the public to play a game to virtually "dig up" 5,000 plots. Each plot represents one square metre of land for the upcoming theatre and players can choose to donate S$10 per plot.
It aims to raise S$100,000, with donor Bowen Enterprises contributing a dollar-for-dollar matching donation of up to S$50,000.
The Esplanade is also launching a separate campaign which allows donors to adopt or gift a limited number of seats in the Singtel Waterfront Theatre for a minimum sum of S$2,800 per seat.
Philanthropists and companies can also adopt various spaces such as its sheltered waterfront linkway, dressing rooms and a green room where artists mingle and rest.
Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu Yang said that the reason for these initiatives to raise funds is to "be less reliant over time on government support for recurrent funding needs".
"This is challenging as most perceive the arts as less of a priority than other charitable causes such as children and youth, the elderly, education and healthcare," Mr Lee added.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said that the medium-sized theatre is a response to a call from local artists and arts groups, who may find moving from performing in a 200 to 300 seater to staging a show in a 1,000-seat theatre “too ambitious at one go".
Currently, the Esplanade has two main performing venues, the 1,600-seat Concert Hall and 2,000-seat Theatre, and two smaller venues, the 220-seat Theatre Studio and 245-seat Recital Studio.
"With 550 seats and a highly modular configuration which can be customised to a range of needs, the new waterfront theatre caters to the needs of such groups, without having to leave the 'comforts' of the Esplanade," she added.
Elaborating on the versatility of the theatre, Esplanade CEO Yvonne Tham said that it is "semi-flexible", and can go from a traditional proscenium theatre to a theatre-in-the-round or even a flat-floor performance space with no seats.
The grassy lawn outside that connects to the foyer allows the Esplanade to programme informal activities outdoors during festivals.
"In some ways, this waterfront theatre is very much about life at street level," said Ms Tham.
"We want to be able to expose people who just walk by the waterfront to the fact that there are arts happening around you. You are part of the life of this arts centre as well."