The House is Open
With the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, live performances ground to a halt. For several months, Singapore’s performance venues stood empty. Subsequently, safe distancing measures allowed for audiences to return to these spaces, though not at their full capacities. This year’s Singapore International Festival of Arts marks the first major performing arts festival since the easing of Covid-19 safe management measures. In this essay, we celebrate the performance venues where SIFA 2022 unfolded.
Photographer Ore Huiying and sound designer Kenn Delbridge visited these venues individually, on different days and at different times, before and during SIFA. The deliberate disjunctions between her images and his soundscapes leave room for imagining the sights unseen and the sounds unheeded, the latent lives of these spaces during these past two difficult years. They also document a moment in time when these venues returned to a fuller form of life.
Pasir Panjang Power Station
The Pasir Panjang Power Station was decommissioned in 1987, and in recent years was converted into one of Singapore’s newest, and most cavernous, performance venues.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Singapore’s national performing arts centre opened in 2002. Its Theatre, which you see and hear here, is modelled on the traditional horseshoe-shaped performance arena.
Goodman Arts Centre
This was at various times the site of Tun Seri Lanang Malay Secondary School, LASALLE College of the Arts, and School of the Arts Singapore. Since 2011, it has been a home for artists, arts companies, and live performances.
The Arts House
This centuries-old building used to be the Parliament House, and it’s a gazetted national monument. An arts centre since 2004, it presents multidisciplinary programmes and festivals, with a particular focus on the literary arts.
Aliwal Arts Centre
The former campus of the Chong Cheng and Chong Pun Schools is nestled in the bustling Kampong Glam area, and sounds from its neighbours gently wash over one another, forming a multi-cultural sonic tapestry. Its current incarnation as an arts centre began in 2013.
Completed in 1862 as a town hall, this venue was later re-named to honour England’s Queen Victoria. The iconic clock tower here was built to join Victoria Theatre with the adjacent Victoria Memorial Hall, now called Victoria Concert Hall.