Monday, November 24, 2008


Art is described as a process of creative elements, blended together to create emotions, feelings, thoughts or even to represent issues of the modern society today. Over the past few years, Singapore has been blending its own creative elements, forming wonders of art. Indeed the word "WONDER"; the theme of the 2008 Singapore Biennale.

The Singapore Biennale is an international showcase of contemporary art. This year, the Biennale is only at its second running and it featured a total of 137 artworks by 66 artists and art collectives from over 36 countries. The inaugural 2006 Singapore Biennale was a major success, attracting more than 883000 visitors. It is certainly interesting to discover if the 2008 Biennale would actually surpass its latter.


2.1 Price
There is a saying that goes; nothing in this world is free, everything comes in with a price. Indeed this applies to events as well. The price tag need not be in monetary terms, it can be in terms of time, opportunity, travel, sensory costs or even travel costs. The Singapore Biennale has priced its single day entry pass at 10 dollars, entitling visits to 2 locations at City Hall and South Beach. The other art exhibitions are complements to the main 2 indoor locations. With so many attractions to visit for a ten dollar ticket, it is certainly worth it.

In my opinion, I felt that The Singapore Biennale price marketing was effective. Event organizers usually have to set more than one price for their products as they cater to different kind of target markets. The Singapore biennale cater to markets like students, children, senior citizens to even passion card holders. To further add on, the price paid is for a concession. This meant that a person can visit the City Hall on the first day and need not go to South Beach by the end of the day. They are able to take all the time they wish to take at City Hall for the first day and simple use the concession to go back to South Beach the next day for further enjoyment of the arts. In addition, the Singapore Biennale helps to reduce sensory and physical costs involved. City Hall and South Beach Development are indoor, air-conditioned and staged within a quiescent environment. It is peaceful, allowing visitors to relax, reducing sensory cost. Appreciating the art is relaxing; hence there are minimal physical efforts required to view the exhibits.

2.2 Packaging
It is always better to buy items in a package then to buy them one by one. Simply, the package offers more benefits than a single item. This goes the same for the Singapore Biennale. At the rate of 10 dollars for a single entry pass, visitors are allowed to visit mainly 2 locations, the City Hall and South Beach Development plus other complimentary destinations topped up with a short guide. Further inclusions included discounts to ride on the Singapore Flyer. The rest mainly consists of promotion discounts but all in all, the entire package consists mainly of visits and a short guide.

In my opinion, I felt that the packaging done by the Singapore Biennale is not up to standard. Indeed, they may have promotions and discounts which are equally attractive. However, packaging more items in besides offering discounts could even attract a larger audience to the Biennale. They could seek improvement by not only providing a short guide; they could offer pencils, stationeries for the visitors. The item maybe small but it is a gesture, a little memento the visitors could keep and use to remind themselves of the event. On top of that, they could top it up with coupons and vouchers of their sponsors. The coupons and vouchers help highlight their sponsor name to the public. At the same time, with the existence of such items, the visitors get to enjoy benefits. In addition, to help promote the contemporary art scene, the coupons could have promotions for other art events or even free entries to the Singapore Art Museum. Discounts for retail items may include items that are related to art from photos to cameras to even brushes or canvases. They vary. Hence, I believe with the inclusion of more items, the Singapore Biennale packaging would deem effective.

2.3 Partnerships & Promotions
As the saying goes, it takes 2 hands to clap. Similarly, an event usually demands formations of joint partnerships in order to achieve their purposes. In particular, the Singapore Biennale is working with the Singapore Arts Council to enhance the contemporary art scene of Singapore. For instance, the 2 main scenic locations of the Singapore Biennale are held at City Hall and South Beach Development. The architecture and history of the 2 buildings would enhance the Singapore Biennale to attract people to visit. Nevertheless, they are rarely opened to the public. The Singapore Arts Council is a government agency and they are one of the main agencies involving in the Biennale respective locations. On top of that, there are also the preservations of the monument board to the land and transport authority. All these agencies are the ones that could authorize decisions; take for instance places. Hence, by working with them, the Singapore Biennale locations were approved. Thus, only through such partnerships, contemporary art shown in the Biennale could be brought out effectively. This enables each respective agency to actually achieve their mission and purpose.

On top of that, the Singapore Biennale also has joint partnerships with other sponsors to offer promotion rates for the visitors visiting the Biennale. There is the one for one ticket promotion and Passion Card Holders are entitled to a 30 percent off for their tickets as well. Every purchase of a Wonder Set in McCafe also entitled them to a 20 percent off for entrance tickets. McCafe is a subsidiary of Macdonalds and Macdonalds is a household fast food chain. The Biennale would easily be promoted should someone just purchase a set meal. This is certainly possible with the popularity of Macdonalds. On top of that, there are also ticket promotions to ride the Singapore Flyer and of course discounts at food and beverage outlets at the Flyer as well. All in all, thanks to these join partnerships and sponsors, visitors visiting the Biennale get to enjoy monetary discount benefits and promotions. The sponsors themselves get their fair share of free advertisement. Both parties benefit. This is certainly an attractive point which could help highlight the Biennale to clueless people, unknown to the event

The Singapore Biennale works with their partners to cater to sales promotions. In addition, they do have other channels of promotions to bring out the event as well. For instance, there is the Internet, advertisements and certainly newspapers. Personally, I came to know about the Biennale through a television advertisement which was screening at the Suntec City Convention Centre. The advertisement was so captivating as it featured different age group of people promoting the event. On top of that, I read many reviews about the Singapore Biennale at The Straits Times and The New Paper. A single picture to words and colors of the event were displayed to me. Such channels of communication certainly attracted me to this event. Plus, we are living in an era of globalization. The Internet can be found practically anywhere anytime. Visitors can easily access the Biennale main website to check out their promotions as well. With so many promotions to choose from and such effective communication channels, it is no wonder the Biennale achieve their target of 500,000 visitors. This is of no surprise since any single one who wished to attend the event could enjoy monetary and leisure benefits. Hence, I sincerely felt that the promotion marketing was effective and so were the various partnerships to facilitate the sales promotion


2.4 Product
The experience of the event itself is the product. A good experience will mean that the product marketing was successful. The Singapore Biennale has made use of its art pieces to be tangibles that enhance emotions and experiences which is their method to have effective product marketing. This was certainly something positive. I felt that the pieces were unique and intriguing. Nevertheless, the pieces displayed are still works of contemporary art which could be challenging to understand for the others. Hence, it is important to ensure that all the visitors had their time well spent in viewing and knowing the significance of the art. Singapore Biennale does have guided tours which operate during the weekends only. Tours on weekdays are mainly self guided tours using audio aids. Indeed, there is a lack of personalized service which is the key element to create the perfect experience, the effective product marketing. Although the number of visitors for Singapore Biennale may stand strong within the targets, consumer experience may differ. In a long run, it is risky and not effective.

The Singapore Biennale could seek improvement by having more guided tours. This meant that personalized guided tours should be available during the weekdays as well. An increase in them would mean more quality service where the visitors are able to interact with their guide. At the same time, they get to be enriched with knowledge of the art and return home feeling more satisfied than merely just hearing audio aids. At the end of the tour a small gift could be presented to them as a memento. Experience is enhanced, guest enjoys more benefits and product marketing is certainly improved, as compared to the previous one.

2.5 Place
A place is sites where events take place. However, a good place is a site where people could enjoy the events taking place. The Singapore Biennale was held at multi-locations namely Raffles City Shopping Centre, One Raffles Quay, Collar Quay, Esplanade Bridge, Central Promontory Site, Suntec City Mall, The Singapore Flyer, South Beach and the Old City Hall. However, South Beach Development and the City Hall are the 2 main indoor locations featuring most of the art pieces. The South Beach Development was an army camp previously, holding the first National Service Enlistment. On the other hand, City Hall was the place where the Japanese surrender during World War 2, the place where the announcement of Singapore’s independence took place.
Both places held great history significance and consist of great heritage value. Take instance for City Hall, most of its judge chamber, court rooms are in their untouched condition. Visitors visiting the Biennale not only get to feel the aspiration of art; they get to be involved within history itself. South Beach Development has its own fair share of space both indoors and outdoors in which art is blended into the environment. Visitors have the ample amount of space to roam around; no constrictions on space. Both sites also create different kind of atmosphere, both intriguing and interesting in my opinion. It feels like a travel between the past and present as contemporary art belongs to the modern society yet the buildings hosting them dates all the way back to the founding days of Singapore. It is rare to find such historical sites in its untouched condition and being open to the public for visitation as well. The trip would certainly be significant as the places people are visiting are no ordinary shopping Buildings. It is certainly attractive and certainly one of the uniqueness of the Singapore Biennale. Hence, I felt that the Biennale place marketing was effective.

the buildings lay by our forefathers; to visit is a rare opportunity given

2.6 Programming
Back in the 19th century when impressionist style paintings were exhibited in Paris, the art pieces and the artistes were largely ridiculed. It was only through continuous public exhibitions did Impressionism became a critical part of the art history. Similar to the contemporary art of today, it is subjected to different opinions. Due to its broad approach, people view them both negatively and positively. In my opinion, the Singapore Biennale is attempting to repeat the history of the Impressionism era. Themed “WONDER” The Biennale is creating programs that aim to broaden the subject of contemporary art into the country and region.

For instance, the Singapore Biennale has scheduled programs like Kids Biennale for kids between 7 to 12 years old. They participate in drawing competitions, engaging in Day Out activities to draw and hunt for white rabbits. On top of that, a special corner in City Hall is catered out especially for the kids. In there, consist of art pieces drawn by kids to even a room for kids to play in. For the teenagers in Secondary and Tertiary Level, there are programs like the Biennale Race where teams participate in an amazing race related to the Biennale. Attractive prizes like hand phones are used to entice the teens to participate and in the course of the race, the participants must come prepared with knowledge of the Biennale. This meant that groups must take the initiative to do their own research before the race. This is one of the few programs listed as there are certainly many others including performances and functions. With so many to choose from, through various channels like social interaction, contemporary art is easily introduced to the public. Hence, program marketing of the event was certainly effective. I guess it only takes a few more Biennales before contemporary art can reach its peak.

2.7 People
Without people, the event cannot exist. A successful event is one where a good relationship is forged between the customers and the events staff. The Singapore Biennale has minimal staff. Majority of them are just volunteers. The guided tours are limited as well, only available during the weekends. Should visitors wish to go through the tour on the weekdays, their only source of reliance is audio aids. Although appreciating the art is supposedly preferred in a quiet environment, understanding them is another issue. Confused visitors may wish to have guides around to guide them. If they missed their slot, it will be opportunity wasted. On top of that, the Singapore Biennale stationed their staff at some of the respective art venues. Nevertheless, some of them were pretty hostile as their priority is to prevent visitors from touching the art pieces. They were not making any effort to explain the reason. I was personally asked to move back from an art piece. Though the staff was polite, I personally felt that they lacked the extra mile service. I would have preferred an explanation then a simple back off and I believe other visitors would prefer that as well. Indeed, there is a lack of service touch to enhance the event. Thus, the Singapore Biennale people marketing are ineffective.

The Singapore Biennale could seek improvement by engaging in more human relations activities. Guided tours could be made available during the weekdays. The staff stationed at the respective venues could learn to be more initiative. This meant engaging with the visitors, automatically coming up to explain about the art works. They should not just sit in one corner, showing hostile attitudes. They should treat each interaction with sincerity and vigor. In addition, they must be knowledgeable of the various works to answer queries posted. This would certainly boost the guest experiences, improving the Singapore Biennale’s people marketing.

"The art piece that was hung on the wall where we were asked to step back"

Such complexity, an explanation is certainly preferred

Tourism Roles and Economic Value

3.1 Place Marketing
Singapore has earned the reputation of being a city known for trade, business and investment. Over the last couple of years, the government of Singapore built up new venues like the Esplanade, the Peranakan Museum. They also implemented strategies like giving grants to growing artists. All these and more are efforts implemented by the government to transform Singapore into an artistic hub. Recently, the Singapore Biennale has worked along the government strategy by showcasing contemporary art to the public. It certainly helped to boost the art scene in Singapore to tourists and certainly locals visiting, showcasing the fact that Singapore is forever seeking and growing. We are a cosmopolitan society that aims to be on be on top for every industry.

At the same time, the Singapore Biennale featured special segments and programs like Kids Biennale. The drawings are themed Alice in Wonderland, a place of great imagination. The pictures showcased reflect creativity by the kids which is certainly positive for them in their phase of growing up. Clearly, the Singapore Biennale is not something that involves tourists; it involves the local community as well.

3.2 Tourist Attraction
Art is boundless. It is forever pursued by people, to explore, to understand their elements and concepts. On a daily basis, people flock to the Louvre in Paris to view the famous paintings by Picasso or Leonardo Da Vinci. The Eiffel Tower depicts magnificent architecture. Such famous art works attract the arrival of tourists and so does the role of the Singapore Biennale.

The Singapore Biennale is only held once in every 2 years. Just like any other Biennales in the world, each showcases something that is unique and not found at other biennales. After 2 months, it will be the end of yet another Biennale in which the next showcase would be in the year of 2010. Hence, the event itself has transformed into a temporary tourist destination attracting visitors to visit before it closes. In addition, the success of the inaugural 2006 Biennale has made it into a renowned art event hence it is well sought of by many art lovers in the world. There were certainly many tourists spotted during our visit to the Singapore Biennale. Hence, the Singapore Biennale has helped the country boost its tourism arrivals and tourism receipts

3.3 Catalyst
The Singapore Biennale is a showcase of contemporary art. Yet, most of its exhibitions are placed in the old historical buildings of City Hall and South Beach Development. Clearly, the organizers did not build new infrastructure for the Biennale. They simply made use of a significant part of history to showcase something modern new. In a way, tourists and visitors visiting the Biennale not only get to see the art pieces, they get to see the historical attractions of the City Hall and South Beach as well. The buildings have not been used for a long time and the Singapore Biennale has seems to restore them back to life. They are being reused to showcase a temporary tourist attraction.In this way the government also saved a sum of money in terms of building infrastructure costing.

3.4 Image Maker
The theme of the Singapore Biennale is known as WONDER. Indeed, the purpose of the Biennale was to allow visitors to explore with an open mind, allow relaxation amidst the hustle and bustle of Singapore. Art reflects in daily life and some of the art pieces depict certain creativity and eye catching moments. It also boasts a huge significance of heritage and culture. Singapore being the host of the Biennale and these art pieces; it naturally will reflect in the tourist or visitors minds that the art piece is linked to Singapore(although the artists may come from another country). This means, whatever the visitors could think of, it would be reflected on Singapore’s image. The Biennale has received both positive and negative reviews by people from all over the world. The outcome of our image fluctuates between the good average and bad. Nevertheless, ultimately it still help boasts the cosmopolitan side of Singapore; a country that is receptive and adaptable to changes.

3.5 Economic Value
The Singapore Biennale is a well known art event that attracts the influx of art lovers and certainly tourists. In this way, it has already contributed to the Singapore Economy through their visitor arrivals.Every single arrival at the Biennale requires Biennale passes which is needed to be paid for. Hence, the more the number of visitor arrivals, the more the amount money of spent by them. In a long run, the Singapore economy benefits. On top of that, the Singapore Biennale attracted its fair share of tourist visits. Hence this meant a boost in tourism arrivals and certainly tourism receipts. This tourism receipts include accommodation fees at hotels, transport, food and beverage, Biennale passes and the various merchandise that could be bought at the Singapore Biennale.

The merchandise offered include mugs, shirts, file slippers and windmills whereby purchasing them would benefit the Singapore Economy as well. In addition, the Singapore Biennale has many joint partnerships and promotions with retail outlets and tourist attractions. For instance, visitors of the Singapore Biennale just had to top up some money to board the Singapore Flyer which is one of Singapore unique tourist attractions; being the largest observation wheel in the world. Promotion discounts with shopping malls in Raffles City Shopping Centre and food and beverage discount with restaurants in Singapore Flyer also encourages visitors of the Singapore Biennale to spend since they are able to get it at a cheaper price. Spending boosts the Singapore Economy as it facilitates movement and growth. The Singapore Biennale is an event for both locals and tourists which meant there is no specific target market for a particular type income group. Hence, it helped to generate a lot of monetary benefits for the economy


Being able to participate in the Singapore Biennale 2008 was certainly an experience of a lifetime. This was not the first art exhibition that I had visited but out of that so many, I ranked the Singapore Biennale on the top of my list

Particularly, I felt that the various art pieces were creative and intriguing. There were so many different forms and I was certainly mesmerized by it. On top of that, it was my first visit to the City hall as well. The location of the place was simply ideal as it was so historical and I personally thought that I would never get a chance to step inside the building.This certainly applies to the other locations as they are all strategic landmarks within the Singapore City

Another factor was their pricing and promotions. Being a student, I get to enjoy a student price topped up with the promotional discounts. It was certainly worth it as there were so many places to visit for just a mere 5 dollar ticket. In addition, I made a visit to the Kids Biennale as well and I was simply mesmerized by the artistic talents of youngkids today. The programs catered to them certainly made them explore and wonder, just like the theme of this year Biennale

Art is creative; Art is boundless. I am certainly looking forward to visit the 2010 Singapore Biennale and experience the feeling all over again


Singapore Biennale exceeds visitor targetsBy 938LIVE
Posted: 19 November 2008 1851 hrs

SINGAPORE: A record 505,200 visitors flocked to the 2008 Singapore Biennale, exceeding its original target of half a million. The event from September 11-November 16 was billed as Singapore's largest international showcase of contemporary art. Audience engagement was of priority this year. Pasting stickers on a gigantic Google Earth map of Singapore, stepping over maggots, or smelling soap in the air - these were just some of the interactive art works on display at this year's event. A first-ever Kid's Biennale was created this year, which saw some 500 pieces of student art works displayed in the Kid's Zone at City Hall. Also a first this year were Cantonese and Hokkien guided tours for group visits, organized by Community Development Councils (CDCs), community clubs and grassroots organizations. The annual Singapore Biennale is the brainchild of the National Arts Council. The council hopes to use this platform to position Singapore prominently as an international arts centre and regional leader in the field of visual arts.

- 938LIVE

CULTURE-SINGAPORE: Long Way to Go as Asia's Arts Hub By Prime Sarmiento

Shubigi Rao was not too happy when her husband, a pilot, was asked by his company to relocate to Singapore. Rao did not think that Singapore could offer opportunities for a budding artist like her.Six years later Rao’s perception of Singapore has changed. "If you have new ideas, it’s easy to do it in this country. The arts community is still small so it’s easy to set up a dialogue," she said. In her 30s Rao has a thriving career here. She gives lectures, has exhibited in several galleries, has won awards and was recently invited by Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) to participate in the Singapore Biennale 2008. For Rao, whose installation art was included in the two-month Biennale that ends on Sunday, this was the ideal opportunity to reach out to a bigger arts audience. "This event features diverse artworks and it will encourage art lovers overseas to come and visit Singapore," says Tang Ling Nah, one of the Singaporean artists participating in the Biennale. This is the second time that Singapore has hosted this prestigious international arts exhibition. With the theme ‘Wonder’, this year’s Biennale featured 137 artworks by 66 artists and art collectives from over 36 countries. Art featured at the Biennale, according to artistic director Fumio Nanjo, encourages the audience "to question and be curious, to punch through surfaces of what is apparent so that we can be surprised, tantalised and challenged at what is revealed or presented’’. But more than a venue to encourage arts appreciation and expression, Singapore’s hosting of the Biennale also reflects the government’s ambition to transform Singapore --generally perceived as wealthy, staid, and an efficient place to do business in but not much else -- into a bustling haven for the arts. "Singapore has earned a reputation as a bustling hub for business and investment. But we are more than that. In recent years, we have also seen a bloom in the arts. Visual arts, music, dance, drama, theatre and literature are now very much part of life in our city," Lee Boon Yang, Singapore’s minister for information, communications and the arts, said in a speech delivered at the opening of the Biennale in September. In recent years, the government has built several venues to help promote Singapore as an artistic hub. These include The Esplanade, located on six hectares of land near the mouth of the Singapore River and touted as a centre for the performing arts. There is also the Peranakan Museum, which showcases the arts and culture of Straits-born Chinese, and ‘8Q’, a new contemporary art space by the Singapore Art Museum. Besides, the NAC provides grants to practicing artists, art collectives and companies that help promote arts appreciation in Singapore. Emmeline Yong of ‘Objectifs’ said that thanks to a NAC grant, she was able to hold photography workshops for schoolchildren. "If you have a solid proposal, if you have something viable that makes sense, you can always find people to hear you out," Yong said. Government support combined with a growing interest in Asian art -- artworks by Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Filipino artists have been breaking records in international art auctions -- has spurred gallery owners from around the world to open shop here.