Singapore’s Festival of the Arts

William Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With Singapore much in the news these days, it is interesting to read about how that nation's recent arts festivals, represented here by the one given in 1994, reflect the pragmatic philosophy that has made the country an economic success. William Peterson discusses this largely Asian-oriented festival, which is heavily funded and designed to support local culture while also showcasing international presentations. He addresses such problems as introducing artistically challenging experimental theatre for unprepared audiences, the difficulty of establishing cultural policies for so ethnically and linguistically diverse a society, and the conflict between an authoritarian, censorship-obsessed government and the free expression of ideas. Among other issues of importance is the emphasis placed at these festivals on the production of lightweight musicals seeking international and commercial success at the expense of funding for less populist work. The performing arts, the author fears, are in danger of being viewed as just another industry to be developed. William Peterson teaches theatre at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. From 1992 to 1995 he taught at the National University of Singapore. He has published pieces on theatre and performance in Australasian Drama Studies, Theatre Journal, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, High Performance, Performance (London), and Theatre Insight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-124
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Art festivals
  • Audiences
  • Stage music
  • Fringe festivals
  • Theater companies
  • Asian art
  • Singaporean art


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